- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 13, 2006

STAFFORD, Va. (AP) — An Australian who propositioned a 16-year-old Virginia girl over the Internet was sentenced to one year in jail, despite his attorney’s argument that the incident was not a crime in the man’s homeland.

Lucas Andrew McKay, who lives in Brisbane in the eastern state of Queensland, was sentenced Wednesday in Stafford County Circuit Court after pleading guilty to using a computer to solicit sex with a minor.

McKay, 32, testified that he had about a six-week Internet relationship last year with the girl.

Defense attorney Patricia Kelly said that under Queensland law, minors become consenting adults at 16. The age of consent in Virginia is 18.

“This man has paid a significant price for doing something that was legal in his country,” Miss Kelly said.

Miss Kelly also said that in Virginia, it’s a felony to solicit sex from a minor over the Internet, but it’s a misdemeanor for an adult to have sex with someone who is 15, 16 or 17.

Nevertheless, prosecutor Erick Olsen urged Judge J. Martin Bass to send a message that online sexual solicitation of minors won’t be tolerated.

“It’s a serious crime, and there should be a serious deterrent,” Mr. Olsen said.

Police began investigating in October after the girl’s parents saw that she was communicating with McKay, who sent the teen photos of his face and genitals, authorities said.

Stafford police alerted Australian authorities, who had an investigator pretend to be a 14-year-old girl and start an online relationship with McKay.

McKay told the detective that he was coming to Detroit to see another teenager he met online.

Federal authorities arrested McKay at the airport in San Francisco in February, and he since has been held in Rappahannock Regional Jail.

The Stafford girl’s stepfather testified that the incident has been stressful for the family.

“At times you feel helpless because you want to protect your children,” he said. “You can lock the front door, but there’s an electronic back door that’s open.”

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