Monday, June 25, 2007

American Sailor Arrested For Underage Online Sex Crime

US Military To NSW Police : "Give Him To Us"

An almost off-radar battle has broken out between the NSW police and the American military over the arrest of a visiting US sailor, David Wayne Budd, now charged with using the internet to try and procure a 14 year old girl for sex.

Budd was caught in a sting operation. A detective, from the NSW Police Child Protection and Serious Sex Crimes Squad, posed as a 14 year old girl online in a "honey pot" operation and Budd allegedly responded and arranged to meet the girl in Sydney for sex.

He was arrested when he arrived at Sydney Airport from North Queensland, where he had been taking part in the huge American-Australian series of war games called 'Talisman Sabre.'

The US military is not happy. They want their lawyers to take over the case, and have asked the NSW police to hand Budd back.

NSW police have refused, believing they can get a successful prosecution.

Budd was charged with "grooming" an underage person for sex, and denied bail. He is due to appear via video-link from his jail cell in a hearing today. Budd has refused to leave his cell.

There was a hearing today, but it was adjourned to Tuesday, June 26, when Budd's lawyer will push for bail.

The police charge sheet claims that while online in Rockhampton, Budd made contact with the undercover detective and supplied "material that is indictable and the sender did this with the intention of making it easier to procure the recipient to engage in sexual activity".

From the Sydney Morning Herald :

"The US military is asking for jurisdiction in this case … they will investigate the matter and take appropriate action," said a US military spokesman, Lieutenant Chris Maddison, of the US embassy. Such a move was allowed under a bilateral "status of forces agreement".

But NSW police sources said the submission would be vigorously opposed. Harsher US penalties and court martial proceedings overseas did not outweigh the potential deterrence value of a successful Australian prosecution, they said.

The US attempt to claim jurisdiction echoes similar controversies in Japan, where there was outrage after men accused in two rape cases remained on US military bases rather than being immediately handed over to Japanese authorities.

In those cases - one in 1995 and another in 2001 - the US cited its status of forces agreement with Japan as justification.