Mahomet man charged in Idaho sex case

BOISE, Idaho -- A Mahomet man faces federal charges in connection with allegedly persuading a 15-year-old Idaho girl to fly to Indiana and take part in sexual activity.

Michael Lee Stewart, 35, of Mahomet was charged in U.S. District Court in Boise on Thursday with attempted enticement and attempted transfer of obscene material to a minor, according a written release from District of Idaho U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson.

If he is convicted of attempted enticement, Stewart could be sentenced to 10 years to life in prison. If he is convicted of the attempted transfer of obscene material to a minor, he could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.

According to the charge, Stewart sent numerous sexually explicit images and a graphic video by cellphone and over the Internet to the girl between Nov. 10, 2010, and March 2011. The girl was 15 years old at the time.

In addition, the complaint alleges that Stewart made travel arrangements for the girl to travel from Idaho to stay with him and arranged for a hotel room in Indianapolis.

According to court documents, the girl's older sister told police she had met Stewart online in August 2010 through a dating website. After he began to chat sexually with her, he began to buy her gifts and to pay her cable bill by sending money to her bank account. When Stewart asked about her family, she gave him her family members' Facebook information. The sister said Stewart chatted with her mother and the 15-year-old girl routinely on Facebook. The sister called police when she learned that Stewart had begun to chat sexually with the 15-year-old girl.

The two sisters gave police their passwords and gave permission to police detectives pose as them and to communicate by instant messaging with Stewart.

A Boise police officer began posing as the teen girl and continued the conversations with Stewart, who later purchased a plane ticket for the girl to Indianapolis. He said he had rented a room at a hotel near the Indianapolis airport and was planning something "special" for the girl.

Stewart was arrested by federal officers on March 3 at the Indianapolis airport while he was waiting for the girl to get off the plane.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Idaho Sex Offender Watch Task Force, Idaho Internet Crimes Against Children Tax Force, Boise Police Department and U.S. attorney's offices in Indiana and Illinois assisted with the investigation.

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