Apparently a grown man having sex with a 13-year-old girl -- obviously illegal under U.S. law -- should not be considered a crime here, in the United States, if said sexual activity happened overseas.
That's according to one Texas man, anyway, who's fighting federal charges of illicit sexual conduct based on just that reasoning.
In late October, federal prosecutors in Houston charged 54-year-old William McGrath, a former army contractor, with the crime of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places for an alleged sexual relationship he had with a 13-year-old girl while working at an Army base in Honduras.
McGrath is now asking a judge in Houston to dismiss his indictment, but not because said relationship is untrue. Instead, McGrath's attorney has argued that the U.S. government does not have the authority to prosecute him for matters that took place in Honduras, according to court filings.
Investigators stumbled upon McGrath's alleged skeeviness in March 2014 while they were completing "an unrelated investigation concerning a foreign counterintelligence matter regarding another individual employed at the Soto Cano Air Base in Honduras."
During that investigation, McGrath's coworkers told the FBI special agents that they believed he was exploiting young Honduran girls, according to court records, and that some coworkers had even seen McGrath outside of the base with a very young girl on multiple occasions.
According to the court documents, McGrath was working at the Soto Cano Air Base in Comayagua, Honduras in December 2012, when he met the young girl at a supermarket, where she was buying herself a cake for her 13th birthday.
McGrath claims the girl told him she was 16 years old at the time -- a fact that the young girl corroborates -- but the dude went after her anyway, getting her phone number and taking her on "dates" to various hotels in the area, where they would have sex, according to court documents.
Prosecutors also claim McGrath gave the girl cash and gifts, and took her to restaurants like Pizza Hut and Pollo Campero; McGrath denies paying the girl for sex. The young girl, however, says McGrath gave her money each time they had sex, in both U.S. and Honduran currency.
During their investigation, the FBI agents found evidence in the messages and chats between the two on the young girl's Facebook account. In one of those messages, McGrath wrote, "You're too young to be with me in public," and "I'm not mad at you, I am upset about the rules and you are only 16 years old."
Investigators say McGrath also had conversations with an adult female on Facebook about the young girl, writing things like, "She's in love with me, that is part of the problem with the law," and, "It was an error on my part a while ago, but I'm in trouble because of her, it's my fault."
McGrath, who continued to work in Honduras during the investigation, was ultimately deemed unwelcome to work in the Central American country and returned to the U.S. in March of this year, where he was questioned by FBI investigators and later released, according to court documents filed by his attorney.
He was arrested in San Antonio almost seven months later, on October 22, 2014.
McGrath's attorney, public defender Marjorie Meyers, is now helping him fight the charges, saying said the allegations in a November indictment are outside the scope of U.S. law because the activities didn't occur on U.S. soil.
"Prosecution of Mr. McGrath for sexual activity in Honduras is akin to prosecuting an American citizen who smokes hashish in Amsterdam, an activity that is legal in the Netherlands," Meyers wrote in a motion filed last week.
"His sexual activity in Honduras has no relationship with commerce, much less foreign commerce, and may have been legal where it occurred," she states.
A judge has not yet ruled on McGrath's motion to dismiss, and he has been ordered to remain in custody.
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