Texas Man Pleads Guilty to Inducing South Carolina Child to Travel for Illegal Sexual Activity
Columbia, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney Sherri A. Lydon stated today that Robert Christiansen, age 57, of San Antonio, Texas, plead guilty after one day of trial in federal court in Columbia, to using an interstate facility to induce a minor to engage in sexual activity and transporting a minor across state lines for the purpose of engaging in illegal sexual activity, violations of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2242(b) and 2423(a). Christiansen faces a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 10 years to life in prison for his offenses. Senior United States District Judge Margaret B. Seymour presided over the start of the trial, accepted the guilty plea, and will impose the sentence after U.S. Probation prepares a Pre-Sentence Report.
The evidence at trial established that Christiansen enticed and groomed a minor to travel from South Carolina to Texas for the purpose of having sex with her. Having met the victim in a Google forum for those suffering from depression and anxiety, Christiansen cultivated a relationship with the minor using text messages, calls, and online communications. At his insistence, the minor left her home in the middle of the night, got into a cab sent by Christiansen, and, using a ticket purchased by Christiansen, boarded a Greyhound bus bound for Texas. Recognizing the danger the victim was in, the FBI was able to obtain emergency cellphone location information to locate both the minor travelling on interstate 10 across Louisiana and Christiansen waiting on her arrival in a Greyhound bus station in Houston Texas. Coordinating with local law enforcement in Orange, Texas, just across the state line from Louisiana, the FBI was able to have the victim rescued from the Greyhound bus.
Ms. Lydon stated, “Thanks to great work by the FBI and Richland County Sherriff’s Deputies, a child victim was saved from a dire fate. I hope that the public recognizes the extraordinary danger that online child predators present for children in our state.”
The case was investigated by agents of the FBI and the Richland County Sheriff’s Department. Assistant United States Attorney Jay N. Richardson and Department of Justice Special Counsel James M. Burnham prosecuted the case.