Australian man arrested in US on child sex charges

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - An Australian man was arrested over the weekend in California for allegedly travelling to the West Coast state to have sex with a six-year-old child, authorities said on Tuesday.

According to the criminal complaint, Michael Quinn, 33, of Melbourne, contacted a social networking website that caters to individuals with a sexual interest in children earlier this month, unaware that he was talking to undercover federal agents.

Quinn told the agents he was travelling to Los Angeles later in the month with the hope of meeting "other pervs" as well as a father "who shares his young ones."

He also allegedly suggested to one of the agents that they "molest a child together," the complaint said.

Quinn was arrested on Saturday at a Los Angeles hotel after he paid an agent posing as a pimp US$250 (S$345) dollars to have sex with a six-year-old child.

If convicted on a charge of child sex trafficking, he faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and up to life without parole.

He also faces up to 30 years in prison on a charge of travelling with the intent of engaging in illicit sexual conduct.

"Millions of tourists flock to Los Angeles every year for all this city has to offer, but if you're coming here to sexually exploit children, expect to be met by law enforcement, not a welcome mat," Joseph Macias, special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigation in Los Angeles, said in a statement.

"As this case vividly illustrates, the advent of the Internet means youth are now vulnerable to exploitation by sexual predators not just around the corner, but around the globe," he said.