ST. GEORGE, UT – Sean Timothy O’Neill, age 49, of Hurricane, pleaded guilty to attempted enticement of a minor and possession of child pornography in federal court in St. George, Utah, Wednesday afternoon. O’Neill admitted he attempted to persuade or induce a minor under 18 years of age to engage in sexual activity.
As a part of an agreement reached with federal prosecutors, O’Neill admitted that from around April 26, 2015, to about October 2017, he used Facebook to attempt to persuade or entice a minor identified as Girl 1 to engage in sexual activity. He admitted that throughout the enticement period, he believed Girl 1 was less than 18 years of age.
O’Neill admitted taking four substantial steps toward committing the crime, including moving from Michigan to Hurricane, buying a home in Hurricane, once in Utah continuing to use Facebook to persuade the minor to engage in sexual activity, and bringing the minor to his home in Hurricane. According to the document filed in court, O’Neill admitted that if the sexual activity with the minor had occurred, he would have committed the criminal offense of Unlawful Sexual Conduct with a 16 or 17 year old under Utah law.
O’Neill also admitted that he possessed an electronic device that contained more than 90 explicit images and three video segments of prepubescent children. The images and videos also depicted the sexual abuse of children.
The plea agreement includes a stipulated sentence of 120 months in prison and at least 60 months of supervised release when he finishes his prison sentence. There is no parole in the federal criminal system. The plea agreement also includes a provision that O’Neill must register as a sex offender for his residence, the location of his employment, and, if he is a student, the location of his school. He must update his registrations no later than three business days after any change of name, residence, employment, or student status.
U.S. District Judge David Nuffer, who presided at the change of plea hearing Wednesday, set sentencing for Aug. 20, 2019, at 9 a.m.
O’Neill was initially arrested on state charges in January 2018. A federal arrest warrant was issued in February 2018.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys in Utah are prosecuting the case. Special agents of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and officers from the Hurricane Police Department are investigating the case.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ offices and DOJ’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.