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County man sentenced for sex crime

A former Chilton County man has been sentenced to 14 years in federal prison for attempting to entice a minor to engage in criminal sexual activity.

Steven Carl Ray, 48, pled guilty to the charge in March, according to a press release by Leura Canary, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama.

“Ray first came to the attention of Alabama law enforcement in April 2007, when he made contact with an internet user named ‘dad_w_daughter,'” the release reads. “Unbeknownst to Ray, the screen name belonged to an undercover Yahoo account monitored and maintained by a detective with the Blountsville Police Department.

“During the course of the ensuing internet chat, Ray made arrangements to purchase (…) sex with the detective’s fictitious 10-year-old daughter, ‘Amanda,’ at a price of $50 per 30 minutes. Later the same evening, Ray traveled from Chilton County to Blount County to meet the girl and was promptly arrested…Ray spontaneously admitted to officers that he was there to meet a 10-year-old girl.”

Ray was a resident of Plantersville at the time of the incident.

“He’s actually not from this area, but he had come to live here and had been a resident for maybe a couple of years before all this happened,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan Stump, who prosecuted the case. “Most recently before that he had lived in Canada for a little while, in Saskatchewan.”

Chief United States Judge for the Middle District Mark Fuller rejected a request by the defense for the statutory minimum sentence of 10 years.

“The only thing that kept a 10-year-old from being abused in your case is the fact that one was not available,” Fuller said.

As part of his sentence, Ray will spend the rest of his life on supervised release.

The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, an initiative to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse.

According to the initiative’s website, 2,118 indictments were filed in fiscal year 2007, a 27.8 percent increase over FY 2006.