When Special Agent Olivia Martinez started a sting operation to catch online sex predator Karl Bute Jnr, she thought it would be a routine assignment. She never suspected that the man she was entrapping would end up entrapping her heart.
The relationship had an inauspicious beginning. “My first impression was that he was a repellent, dangerous child sex offender who had shown no remorse for his crimes,” said Martinez. “So I was surpised to find myself looking forward to our little chats.”
“I was getting really tired of traditional dating, and kept going out with selfish egomaniacs. So to have someone be really interested in me for a change – what my hopes for the future were, what kind of clothes I liked, the route I took home from school – was really refreshing,” she says.
The rapport they had developed in cyberspace didn’t diminish when it came time to bring Bute into custody. “I wasn’t expecting someone so, well, adorable,” she said. “He looked so vulnerable being led away in handcuffs. He even brought some flowers, which was a sweet touch. So many of these pervs bring nothing more than a roll of duct-tape.”
Bute, a petty criminal with a string of convictions for theft and indecent assault, was wary at first. “I generally don’t like police,” he says. But the two developed a natural rapport in the interview room that went beyond run-of-the-mill interrogation.
“It’s the little things, you know? Asking if I need a cigarette or a cup of coffee while I’m waiting for my attorney. Being the good cop in ‘good cop, bad cop’. Although she can definitely be ‘bad cop’ too,” says Bute with a wry chuckle.
“She’s a cop, and I’m a perp, so there’s definitely an element of ‘opposites attract’,” says the former Little League coach. “But we also have common interests, like surveillance operations. I don’t really think of her as being ‘Special Agent’ – she’ll always be Strawberry_13 to me.”
Martinez says she’s “not 100% happy” with what she calls Bute’s “lifestyle choices”, but says she’s trying to take things one day at a time. “Everyone has some little things about their partner they’d like to change.”
While Bute’s ongoing trials may throw a spanner in the works, the couple say that they can see a bright future together. “Karl says he can see kids down the track,” says Martinez.
“But only with binoculars,” Bute adds.