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Child Exploitation

Southern California man traveled to Bay Area seeking sex with 2 minors

SAN JOSE, Calif. — A Southern California man who allegedly traveled to the Bay Area believing he was going to have sex with two minors now faces state charges, following a probe by the Morgan Hill Police Department and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Stephen Lewis, 21, of Oceanside, Calif., was taken into custody Saturday by Morgan Hill Police detectives and HSI special agents. Lewis is charged with illegally meeting a minor to engage in lewd or lascivious behavior and possession of child pornography.

The investigation into Lewis began after he made contact online with a male subject who agreed to allow Lewis to have sexual relations with his two minor children, who purportedly lived in Morgan Hill. The male subject Lewis interacted with over the Internet was actually an undercover investigator. When Lewis arrived at the agreed upon time and location in Morgan Hill to meet the man, he was taken into custody without incident. Lewis was later booked into the Santa Clara County Jail.

"Many child sexual predators mistakenly believe they can act on their unconscionable urges with impunity and anonymity online, but as this case shows, nothing could be further from the truth," said Joseph Vincent, assistant special agent in charge for HSI San Jose. "Homeland Security Investigations will continue to work closely with its law enforcement partners here and around the globe to target those engaged in the sexual exploitation of children to see that they are held accountable for their crimes."

"Law enforcement works diligently to protect everyone in our communities; especially children who are the most vulnerable," said Morgan Hill Police Chief David Swing. "I am very proud of the dedicated professionals who worked as a team to keep this predator from victimizing children."

Anyone with more information regarding the case is urged to call Morgan Hill Police Detective Joseph Burdick at 408-779-2101 or the department's anonymous tip line - 408-947-STOP (7867).

The Morgan Hill Police Department and HSI are both members of the multiagency Silicon Valley Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers. HSI is a founding member and current chair 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.