A California man caught last month at Harrisburg International Airport en route to meet an Elizabethtown girl now faces a potential life sentence on a federal indictment.
Stephen Chang, 27, had been charged by local police with three criminal counts for attempting to meet a 14-year-old girl whom he contacted online.
On Thursday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced an indictment by a federal jury on counts of criminal sexual conduct and coercion of sexual activity from a minor.
The latter charge carries a potential maximum sentence of life in prison, upon conviction.
Chang is being held at Dauphin County Prison since a federal judge found probable cause in the case.
Here is the U.S. Department of Justice’s release regarding the indictment:
HARRISBURG - The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Stephen Chang, age 27, from Los Angeles, California was indicted yesterday by a federal grand jury in Harrisburg for travel with intent to engage in criminal sexual conduct and coercion of sexual activity from a minor.
Chang was arrested at the Harrisburg International Airport on Saturday, March 5, 2016 and originally charged in a criminal complaint with three counts of travel with intent to engage in criminal sexual conduct.
According to United States Attorney Peter Smith, Chang allegedly began communicating with a minor female when she was only 13 years old. The communications began in August 2014 and continued until the day of his arrest. During these conversations, Chang enticed the juvenile to produce and send sexual exploitative images. Chang also traveled from Los Angeles, California to Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania on December 12, 2014, October 1, 2015 and March 4, 2016, to engage in sexual conduct with the minor.
On January 29, 2016, police were notified by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in a CyberTipline report about Facebook communications between the minor residing in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania and an adult male in California, later identified as Stephen Chang.
Chang appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan E. Schwab on March 7, 2016 for his initial appearance and preliminary hearing. Judge Schwab found probable cause to conclude that Chang traveled to Pennsylvania to engage in sexual conduct with a minor and ordered Chang temporarily detained pending a detention hearing on March 10, 2016. Chang was ordered detained at his detention hearing.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office, the Elizabethtown Police Department, the Northwest Regional Police Department, the Dauphin County District Attorney’s Office and the Harrisburg International Airport Police and demonstrates an excellent collaborative investigative effort to remove dangerous sexual predators from the street and protect the communities’ children. The federal charges are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Daryl Bloom.
If you have any information related to this case or believe you or someone you know may be a victim, you are encouraged to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation at 717-232-8686.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab "resources."
All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.
A sentence following a finding of guilt is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
The maximum penalty under federal law for travel with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity is 30 years’ imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a $250,000 fine. The maximum penalty under federal law for coercion and enticement of sexual activity from a minor is life imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a $250,000 fine.
Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant's educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.