Yesterday in a first of two trials, a jury found former WPTV meteorologist Rob Lopicola guilty on two out of three charges. The six jurors returned a guilty verdict on one count of computer pornography and child exploitation, and found Lopicola guilty of using text messages to solicit sex from a minor. The jury returned a split not guilty verdict on one charge of having oral sex with a minor.
Rob Lopicola was arrested in July 2012 after a teen came forward with information he was under aged when he met the former weatherman in 2010 after finding his profile on Craigslist.
The teen, now 18, found Lopicola’s profile on Craigslist in 2010 when he was 15 years old and contacted him saying he’s 18. According to him, the two sexted, and eventually met in person and had sex. He eventually reported his encounter with Lopicola to authorities in March 2011 after he had moved out of Florida with his family.
“I wanted to report it because I knew it was the right thing, what he did was wrong and he knows that.”
During cross exam the teen admitted he sent sexually suggestive texts to Lopicola to entice him but denied accusations by the defense that he was trying to entrap him in a ‘To Catch a Predator’-like situation, and testified the two were sexting because “I was just really lonely”. On the stand, Lopicola insisted he had never met the teen until he saw him in the court room, and that the two had only exchanged texts but never had personal contact.
A second case is pending with a former teenager, now 20, who also found Lopicola on Craigslist. He was 17 at the time, and also allegedly lied about being of legal age. The young man testified Wednesday that he and Lopicola traded texts, and that Lopicola set him naked photos of himself. The two allegedly met in person at the teen’s home and were about to have sex when his mother returned and caught Lopicola hiding in the bathroom, something Lopicola did not deny.
The prosecution says that even if Lopicola didn’t know the teens were under aged he still committed a crime.
Sentencing in the first case is set for December 6, Lopicola faces 34 months to 20 years.