Former Surrey soccer coach pleads guilty to sex crime in U.S.

Online chats led to arrest at meeting place in Washington state

  • Jan. 13, 2016 2:00 p.m.

Kuldip (Kelly) Singh Mahal

Stephanie Ip, The Province

A former Surrey soccer coach who travelled into Washington state last year intending to have sex with a 12-year-old girl has pleaded guilty in U.S. court.

Kuldip (Kelly) Singh Mahal, who was 47 at the time of his February 2015 arrest, entered a guilty plea to the sex crime this week in a Seattle courthouse, according to documents filed Tuesday.

Authorities said that in mid-January 2015, Mahal responded to a Craigslist ad titled “Crazy and very young. Looking to explore myselfw4m.”

Unknown to Mahal, the ad had been posted by an undercover agent working with Homeland Security Investigations.

The Surrey man and the person he believed to be a 12-year-old named “K.J.” then began trading messages and photos.

“I really like what I read in your ad, our wants, needs are the same,” read the opening line of an email sent in response to the ad.

“I am looking for NSA (no strings attached) or ongoing casual/FWB (friends with benefits) relationship with someone who is open-minded and willing to try/chat about anything once.”

Court documents noted the correspondence grew to include “topics of a sexual nature and sexual innuendo,” with Mahal allegedly sending multiple photos of himself, and requesting the same from “K.J.”

The documents described how Mahal began making plans in late January to meet up with the girl at the Skagit River Park Playfields in Burlington, Wash., about 80 kilometres south of the border. When Mahal arrived at the park on Feb. 3, officers arrested him.

At the time of his arrest, Mahal was facilities manager for a Vancouver tech firm and a volunteer soccer coach with Surrey United. Shortly afterward, he was suspended by the soccer organization.

Mahal now awaits sentencing, which is scheduled for early April. He faces a recommended sentence of six-and-a-half to nine years in prison, although a longer sentence of up to 30 years is possible.

Mahal will also undergo a psycho-sexual evaluation prior to sentencing.

The investigation was conducted as a part of HSI’s Operation Predator. Since the operation’s launch in 2003, more than 10,000 persons have been arrested for crimes against children.

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