Maui man found guilty of underage sex enticement
A Maui businessman who attempted to bring what he thought was a 15-year-old girl from Honolulu to meet him for sex was found guilty Monday.
A Maui Circuit Court jury found Robert J. McKnight Jr., 37, guilty of first-degree electronic enticement of a child. McKnight, owner of a cleaning business, will remain out on bail until his Nov. 14 sentencing.
He is the first person to go before a jury under a new sentencing law that mandates a minimum one-year prison term, according to the state Attorney General's Office.
Through an Internet chat room, McKnight struck up an online relationship with a law enforcement agent who pretended to be a 15-year-old girl, said Deputy Attorney General Albert Cook. He arranged for the girl to fly to Maui. He was arrested July 6, 2006, at Kahului Airport, Cook said.
He is one of 20 people who have been charged after investigations by the Hawaii Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, made up of county police departments and prosecutors and the state Attorney General's Office. McKnight was the first to go on trial on the charge. Other defendants have pleaded guilty, Cook said.
The felony count is punishable by 10 years in prison, and McKnight will be required to register as a sex offender. The new sentencing law, passed by the 2006 state Legislature, provides for a minimum sentence of five years' probation with one year in prison as a condition of probation.
The task force has created a Web site at www.hicac.com with Internet safety tips and information on how to report suspected illegal Internet activity that targets children.