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A 47-year-old man from Surrey, British Columbia was arrested yesterday afternoon at a park in Burlington, Washington, where he was expecting to meet a 12-year-old girl whom he had tried to entice into having sexual contact with him, announced Acting United States Attorney Annette L. Hayes. KULDIP “KELLY” SINGH MAHAL, responded to a Craigslist posting and began communicating with what he believed to be a 12-year-old girl. In fact, he sent multiple sexually explicit messages and photos to an undercover agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). MAHAL, who works as a facilities manager for a Vancouver BC tech firm, crossed the border into the U.S. at Blaine yesterday and headed toward the park where he had agreed to meet the girl. MAHAL is a volunteer coach for a U-16 soccer team in British Columbia. He made his initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Seattle today and will remain detained pending a hearing on Monday, February 9, 2015.
“Homeland Security Investigation Agents work hard each day to keep our country, and in this case our children, safe from those who would do them harm,” said Acting United States Attorney Annette L. Hayes. “I am grateful for their hard work in this case.”
According to the complaint filed in the case, MAHAL responded to a posting on the Vancouver BC Craigslist site on January 15, 2015. MAHAL sent a picture of his arms and upper body, and expressed interest in a sexual relationship. MAHAL continued to communicate with the undercover agent even after the agent said she was 12-years-old. In fact MAHAL is alleged to have sent sexually explicit photos of himself and repeatedly requested the “girl” send sexually explicit photos of herself back to him. MAHAL allegedly engaged in lengthy sexualized chats via text message with the “girl.”
“In three weeks’ time, the defendant went from responding to an online posting to traveling from Canada to Washington State to meet a minor for illicit sex,” said Brad Bench, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Seattle. “Fortunately, he was actually communicating with an undercover HSI special agent. Individuals who cross international borders to sexually abuse children, whether they are Americans traveling overseas or foreigners traveling to the U.S., are within HSI’s jurisdiction and will be held to account for their crimes.”
Enticement of a Minor is punishable by a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of ten years, and up to life.
The charges contained in the complaint are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The case is being investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kate Vaughan. Ms. Vaughan heads up the Project Safe Childhood efforts of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. More on Project Safe Childhood here.