A Surrey soccer coach arrested a year ago in Washington and accused of pursuing sex with a 12-year-old girl has pleaded guilty to the crime.
According to a news release issued by the U.S. Department of Justice, Kuldip “Kelly” Singh Mahal made the plea today (Jan. 12) in U.S. District Court in Seattle.
A jury trial on the matter had been scheduled to get underway next Tuesday (Jan. 19).
Mahal, 47, is set to be sentenced on April 1. Under a plea agreement, a prison term of between 78 and 108 months (6½ to nine years) is to be recommended, however, a sentence of up to 30 years is possible.
Mahal, who was a volunteer coach for a Surrey United U16 boys team at the time, was arrested Feb. 3, 2015 at a park in Burlington, Wash. – after crossing into the U.S. at Blaine – where he was expecting to meet a young girl whom he believed he had enticed into having sex with him.
Court documents filed at the time note Mahal had responded to a “casual encounters” post on Craigslist the month before, not realizing he was communicating with an undercover agent.
“Mahal believed he had been corresponding with a 12-year-old girl, but in fact he sent multiple sexually explicit messages and photos to an undercover agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations,” Tuesday’s release states.
“Mahal continued to communicate with the undercover agent even after the agent claimed she was 12 years old. In fact, Mahal sent sexually explicit photos of himself and repeatedly requested the “girl” send sexually explicit photos of herself back to him.”
Word of the arrest resulted in Mahal’s suspension from Surrey United Soccer Club.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, Mahal is to undergo a psycho-sexual evaluation before sentencing, the release adds. Based on the results, prosecutors could recommend up to lifetime supervision. Mahal will also be required to register as a sex offender.