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April 24, 2019St. George, UTUnited StatesChild Exploitation

Child predator in Utah pleaded guilty to using Facebook to entice minor

ST. GEORGE, Utah — A Utah man pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to enticing a minor and possessing child pornography. 

This guilty plea was announced by John W. Huber, District of Utah.  This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and Hurricane (Utah) Police Department.

As a part of an agreement reached with federal prosecutors, Sean Timothy O’Neill, 49, of Hurricane, admitted that from around April 26, 2015, to about October 2017, he used Facebook to attempt to entice a minor identified as Girl 1 to have sex with him. He admitted that throughout the enticement period, he believed that Girl 1 was under 18 years of age. 

O’Neill admitted taking four substantial steps toward committing the crime: moving from Michigan to Hurricane; buying a home in Hurricane; once in Utah, continuing to use Facebook to persuade the minor to have sex with him; and bringing the minor to his home in Hurricane.  According to the document filed in court, O’Neill admitted that if he had sex with the minor, he would have violated Utah law.

O’Neill also admitted that he possessed an electronic device that contained more than 90 explicit images and three video segments depicting the sexual abuse of prepubescent children.

The plea agreement includes a stipulated sentence of 10 years in federal prison and at least five years of supervised release after he finishes his prison sentence. There is no parole in the federal criminal system.  As part of the plea agreement, O’Neill must also register as a sex offender for his residence, the location of his employment, and the location of his school if he is a student. He must update his registrations no later than three business days after any change of name, residence, employment, or student status.

U.S. District Judge David Nuffer, who presided at the April 24 change of plea hearing, set sentencing for Aug. 20.

O’Neill was initially arrested on state charges in January 2018; a federal arrest warrant was issued in February 2018.

This investigation was conducted under HSI’s Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 19,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child exploitation material, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2018, more than 3,000 (3,191) child predators were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative and more than 850 (859) victims identified or rescued.

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. From outside the U.S. and Canada, callers should dial 802-872-6199. Hearing impaired users can call TTY 802-872-6196.

Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.

For additional information about wanted suspected child predators, download HSI’s Operation Predator smartphone app or visit the online suspect alerts page. HSI is a founding member of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.

Updated: 04/30/2019