BOSTON – A New Hampshire man was arrested Thursday in Watertown, Mass., after he allegedly traveled there to engage in sexual relations with a minor female. The arrest follows an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Karl W. Leeman, 46, from Milford, N.H., was charged via criminal complaint on charges he persuaded, induced, enticed or coerced a minor to engage in sexual activity.
The criminal complaint alleges that in February 2014, HSI special agents placed an ad on Craigslist using a false identity, seeking a male that might be interested in a relationship involving a minor. Leeman responded to the advertisement, and engaged in more than 650 email communications with undercover special agents regarding the fictional minor and the sexual activities that he would engage in with her. On Feb. 27, Leeman traveled from his place of work in Acton to Watertown to meet the fictional minor. At the time of his arrest, Leeman was carrying alcohol, bath products, lubricant and gifts of clothing for the minor.
"I am very proud of my agents’ tireless work in targeting online predators, and I would like to commend our outstanding partners in the local and state police departments," said Bruce Foucart, special agent in charge of HSI Boston. "The Internet is an integral part of our daily life. However, we will continue to aggressively pursue those who manipulate it in order to prey on the defenseless."
If convicted, Leeman faces a statutory mandatory minimum term of 10 years in prison, a minimum of five years and a maximum of a lifetime of supervised released, and a $250,000 fine.
The details contained in the complaint are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
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 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2013, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.
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. 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.
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.