Sex predator jailed for grooming Aussie teen
AN AMERICAN child predator who built a relationship with a 16-year-old Australian girl over Facebook and then enticed her to fly to Los Angeles so he could sexually abuse her has been sentenced to 35 years' jail in New York.
Sean Price, 40, from Queens, New York, began communicating with the girl in 2016 on Facebook, and in their daily messages he openly discussed the girl's young age and expressed his desire to have sex with her.
Price initially discussed obtaining a fake passport for the girl so she could fly to the US without her parents' knowledge, and talked about imitating her father to get her through airport security.
When the girl told him she did not need parental permission to fly internationally Price responded in a chat they would soon be laughing at her parents and asked: "So you coming to papa?" US Homeland Security Investigations special agent-in-charge Angel Melendez said Price took advantage of the girl.
"Now a convicted sexual predator, Sean Price admittedly lured a teenage girl from Australia to Queens, taking advantage of her young spirit and susceptibility," Melendez said.
In March, 2017, Price wired the girl more than $US900 ($A1,234) to purchase a plane ticket, and a few weeks later the girl flew on a round-trip ticket from Sydney to Los Angeles.
Price was waiting for her in Los Angeles and they hired a rental car and drove across the US to Price's home in Jamaica, Queens.
Price admitted they had sex during the cross-country trip and while in New York until a search involving NSW Police, Australian Federal Police (AFP) and US authorities tracked the girl down four weeks later at his home in Queens.
The girl's mother recounted in a submission to the US District Court the trauma her daughter suffered and how her family continued to struggle with the aftermath of Price's actions.
Price was found guilty at a December 2017 trial in New York of charges including interstate and foreign enticement to engage in sexual activity and attempted sexual exploitation of a child.
Richard Donoghue, US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, expressed his appreciation to NSW Police, the AFP and NYPD for their assistance in the investigation and recovering the missing girl.
"Sean Price preyed upon the vulnerabilities of a young teenage girl, luring her across the world and away from her home for his own illicit purposes," Donoghue said.
AFP acting Commander Joanne Cameron, Manager Victim Based Crime encouraged parents to be aware of their children talking to strangers online.
"When our kids are online, we are helping them to discover the wealth of information out there - and this access to technology should never be discouraged," acting Commander Cameron said.
"But what we would encourage is for parents to be alive to the risks and to educate themselves, and their kids, about them.
"We are dedicated and committed to stopping these predators who seek out our children for their own twisted benefit, and with the recent opening of the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation, we expect to continue working together with our partners who share these same goals."
"The use of the internet by predators is an emerging trend and growing exponentially because the web is so widely used by people of all ages," said North Shore Police Area Commander, Detective Superintendent Allan Sicard.
"This is a timely reminder for all parents to spend time talking to your children about the dangers associated with online conversations, particularly when communicating with someone they have only ever met online."
Members of the AFP and NSW Police were key witnesses in the Price's trial, giving evidence to ensure a successful prosecution.