PORTLAND, Ore. - A former Boy Scout leader pleaded guilty today in federal court to charges stemming from his attempts to entice a 15-year-old Massachusetts girl to travel to Oregon to have sex with him, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
James V. Reyes, 47, of Beaverton, Ore., pleaded guilty today to one count of attempting to transport a minor in interstate commerce for the purpose of engaging in unlawful sexual activity, and one count of using the Internet to entice a minor to engage in unlawful sexual activity. Each of the charges is a felony that carries a penalty of from 10 years to life imprisonment.
According to court documents, Reyes engaged in numerous instant message chats and telephone conversations with the girl, during which he discussed having sexual relations with her. Local law enforcement officers in the girl's home state of Massachusetts became aware of Reyes' actions after her father discovered explicit messages between his daughter and Reyes.
In the fall of 2006, Reyes sent the teen an airline ticket to fly from Massachusetts to Oregon. Reyes rented a motel room along the Oregon coast, where he planned to take her to have sex. Reyes was arrested by federal and local law enforcement officers when he arrived at Portland International Airport to meet the girl's flight. He had the motel room key in his pocket at the time of his arrest.
"This case is particularly troubling because of the defendant's position of trust with young people, but it underscores ICE's commitment to working with our law enforcement partners to search out predators who sexually exploit innocent children," said Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge of the ICE office of investigations in Seattle. "Some predators mistakenly believe the anonymity of cyberspace shields them from scrutiny; in fact, their use of computers and the Internet have given us new tools in our enforcement efforts to protect children."
"Fortunately, because of a parent's vigilance and the fine work of federal and local law enforcement officers, this predator was apprehended before he had the chance to sexually abuse a 15-year-old girl," said Karin Immergut, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon. "We are committed to investigating and prosecuting those who use the Internet to prey on our most vulnerable citizens."
On December 12, 2006, a federal grand jury in Portland, Ore., returned an indictment charging Reyes with five separate felony counts in connection with his activities with the girl. As part of a plea agreement, Reyes pleaded guilty to two of the most serious counts. The remaining three counts will be dismissed at the time of sentencing.
The investigation is part of the Department of Justice's Project Safe Childhood and ICE's Operation Predator, initiatives targeting those who prey on and exploit children. Led by the United States Attorney's Offices, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov. Launched in 2003, ICE's Operation Predator has resulted in more than 10,000 arrests since its inception, including more than 280 in Oregon. The public is encouraged to report suspected child predators and suspicious activity suspicious by contacting ICE at 1-866-DHS-2ICE or Operation.Predator@dhs.gov. Additionally, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an ICE partner on Operation Predator, can be contacted at 1-800-843-5678 or www.cybertipline.com.
ICE was joined in this investigation by the sheriff's office in Washington County, Ore., and the police department in Hopkinton, Mass.