A soldier from Fort Hood, Texas was found guilty in a Bangor courtroom of exploiting a 14-year-old girl he met on a gaming site.

Did the Soldier Know How Old She Was?

It's every parent's nightmare. A 13-year-old girl from Maine was using a popular online gaming platform when she met a boy who took an interest in her. Except he wasn't a boy but was actually a 22-year-old soldier from Texas who knew how old she was. According to the United States Attorneys Office District of Maine, the conversations between the two included descriptions of sex.

Twice, Christopher Meza traveled from Texas to Maine to meet with the girl who, by then, was 14 years old. On both occasions, officials say he was able to successfully leave the state with her.

What Charges Did He Face?

In U.S. District Court in Bangor this week, Christopher Meza was found guilty on several charges:

  • Enticement of a child (1 count)
  • Traveling with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct (2 counts)
  • Transportation with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity (2 counts)

The verdict came after a two-day jury trial with Judge Lance E. Walker presiding.

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Three of the five counts for which Meza was found guilty carry a minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison. The remaining 2 counts carry a maximum of 30 years. A Federal judge will determine Meza's sentence at a later date.

How Do We Report Suspected Exploitation?

If you have information about suspected child sexual exploitation, you're encouraged to make a CyberTipline Report to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. If you're in Maine and you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted or abused, you can get help by calling the free, private 24-hour statewide sexual assault helpline at 1-800-871-7741.

The NCMEC got 32 million reports of suspected child sexual exploitation in 2022. That statistic includes more than 80,000 reports of online enticement of children for sexual acts, an increase of 82% from 2021 to 2022.

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