Chat room man jailed after grooming 15-year-old for sex

A 15-year-old girl who lied about her age to get into an R18 telephone chat room ended up in a sexual relationship with the 41-year-old man she met there.

Christchurch District Court was told today the girl now felt guilty, stupid and had low self-esteem, suffered from insomnia, and was irritable.

Her behaviour had been affected and her concentration had been wrecked, said Judge Philip Moran at Jason Wales' sentencing today.

Wales, a computer programmer, admitted grooming the girl for sex after meeting her in the chat room, having unlawful sexual connection with her when she was 15, and an unrelated charge of possessing a computer file showing images of an adult sexually abusing children.

Judge Moran jailed him for three years nine months.

Crown prosecutor Shannon-Leigh Litt said the victim had been particularly vulnerable because of her age, which was known to Wales when he had sex with her. The victim impact statement made sad reading.

She said Wales had been on bail on the charge of possessing the objectionable publication when the other offending occurred.

Defence counsel Elizabeth Bulger said: "It seems there was some affection between them. He was apprehended because he was taken home to meet her parents."

He accepted he should never have got the girl into the situation, and that he had issues for which he needed assistance.

Wales, who had no previous convictions, had been in custody for a year since his arrest which might affect the time still available to attend the Kia Marama course for sex offenders.

Judge Moran said the girl did not achieve her potential in the past year at school.

"She continues to experience guilt and shame that she got into this offending on the basis that it was an acceptable and normal thing to do.

"Now that she knows better she feels guilty, stupid and has low self-esteem."

Judge Moran said the age restrictions on the telephone chat room did not deter young people in any significant way.

He said Wales, a father of four, had been a useful, contributing member of the community in the past. "You are ashamed of the fact that you have taken advantage of this young girl, and that shame is appropriate."

- NZPA

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