Vancouver Sun

Surrey man gets 7 years for trying to lure girl

- KIM BOLAN kbolan@postmedia.com blog: vancouvers­un.com/tag/real-scoop twitter.com/kbolan

A Surrey soccer coach who thought he was travelling to the U.S. to have sex with a 12-year-old girl has been sentenced to seven years in jail.

Kuldip (Kelly) Mahal, 47, was arrested in February 2015 in Burlington, Wash., where he was expecting to meet a young girl who he believed he had enticed into having sexual contact with him.

In fact, Mahal had been sending sexually explicit messages and photos to an undercover agent with U.S. Immigratio­n and Customs Enforcemen­t.

At Mahal’s sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik said: “We have so many child victims, and if we can stop abuse of real children by doing these sting operations, then it is a good use of government resources.”

Three weeks before his arrest, Mahal had responded to a Vancouver Craigslist ad titled: “Crazy and very young, looking to explore myself.” Mahal, who had coached with the Surrey United Soccer Club for 11 years, sent messages to the purported child even after she told him she was 12.

Mahal pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court on Tuesday to travelling with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor.

According to court documents, the ad to which Mahal responded was in the “casual encounters” section of Craigslist. It said: “I’m a bit young and I want to learn some new things. I have never experience­d the things I want to. I am real and live in Burlington, Wash. I like to go to outlet stores at Tulalip!!”

On Feb. 3, 2015, Mahal crossed the border at Blaine to meet the girl. He brought dildos, lubricant, condoms and printouts of local hotel informatio­n. Instead, he was arrested and has been in custody.

U.S. Attorney Annette Hayes said even though Mahal had “the knowledge that another man had been arrested in a similar Internet enticement case, this defendant persisted in seeking sex with a 12-year-old child.”

Mahal was employed as a facilities manager for a tech firm.

Bradford Bench, special agent in charge for Homeland Securities Investigat­ions in Seattle, said the sentence should deter others in positions of trust from abusing their power over kids.

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