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Internet Safety

Luring girl for sex nets 19-year term

A federal judge sentenced a Virginia man yesterday to nearly 20 years in prison for luring a 13-year-old Pittsburgh girl to run away with him and engage in bondage.
Scott William Tyree, 40, expressed sorrow to the girl and her family, who were in the courtroom, and he admitted that he needs help.

But his attorney argued that Tyree thought he was rescuing the girl from a violent household, after she claimed in a computer chat room that her father had "beaten the hell out of her" because the Pittsburgh Steelers had lost a football game the day before.

Arguing for less prison time, defense attorney Damien Schorr also noted that the girl initiated the talk of bondage, with the comment, "It is my fantasy to have these things happen to me." This wouldn't have happened had the parents known what she was doing on the computer.

Senior U.S. District Court Judge William Standish rejected those arguments. He credited Tyree for accepting responsibility for his crimes but added time to his sentence for inflicting serious bodily injury, restraining the victim, exploiting the girl's vulnerability, victimizing a 13-year-old, and using a computer in furtherance of his crimes.

Standish sentenced Tyree to 19 years and 7 months in prison.

The girl disappeared from her Crafton Heights home on New Year's Day, 2002. Her parents appealed to the public for help and police and federal agents began an intense search. They found her three days later in Tyree's townhouse in Herndon, Va.

Tyree had trolled Internet chat rooms for nine months, according to an FBI affidavit, looking for a girl to make his "sex slave," and he broadcast a Webcam video of her and boasted to a correspondent, "I got her."

When police raided his townhouse, the girl was in restraints. Investigators found whips, pulleys, clamps and paddles used in sadomasochistic practices in his basement. It all started in an Internet chat room. It could have been avoided had the parents been using a computer monitoring program or by not letting her chat unsupervised. The Internet is indeed a dangerous place for a child to be alone.

Tyree was employed as a computer programmer. He was divorced, and his 12-year-old daughter had just left Tyree's home for a holiday visitation on the day Tyree drove to Pittsburgh to pick up the girl.
Tyree pleaded guilty to taking a girl across state lines for illegal sex and to producing and transmitting a live video of a child engaged in explicit sexual conduct.

"I only have myself to blame," he testified yesterday. "I have a deep desire to understand what I did, why I did it, and to become a better person."

Standish recommended that Tyree participate in a treatment program for sex offenders. When he is released from prison, Standish ordered, he will be supervised for three years and will be restricted from contact with children, use of computers, and possession of pornography.

Schorr said he was disappointed with the length of the prison term and he will consider an appeal.

The girl and her mother declined to comment after the hearing. Her father was asked to comment on the claim that he had beaten his daughter. He said, "I think we have great people working for the justice system, let's put it that way."


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