Grand jury indicts British man in Internet sex sting

Thursday, April 25th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MUSKOGEE, Okla. (AP) _ A federal grand jury on Wednesday returned a three-count indictment against a British man who allegedly traveled to Fort Gibson to have sex with a teen-age girl he met on the Internet.

Fort Gibson police arrested Nicholas John Rayner of Seaborough, England, last week as he got out of a taxicab.

The counts allege that Rayner, 36, crossed state lines with the intent to engage in a sexual act with a minor and tried to transfer obscene materials to a minor.

The 13-year-old girl, named ``Heather,'' was actually a female undercover police officer.

``In early April 2002, Rayner is alleged to have traveled from the United Kingdom to New Orleans, La., where he stayed with an adult female he had met on the Internet,'' U.S. Attorney Sheldon Sperling said in a statement.

``On April 17 . 5/8. 5/8. Rayner allegedly arrived in Muskogee on a bus which he boarded in New Orleans. He allegedly took a taxi cab from Muskogee to Fort Gibson where he was arrested,'' Sperling said.

If convicted, Rayner could face up to 15 years in a federal prison and a $250,000 fine.

He is being held in the Muskogee County Jail without bail on state complaints.

British officials have not tried to intervene on Rayner's behalf, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Linda Epperley.

``We're required by law to give notice to the British embassy within 24 hours of an arrest,'' Epperley said. ``Those calls were made in a timely manner, and we haven't heard anything back.''

Rayner and the fictional Heather communicated with each other over the Internet for several months, according to reports. He was planning to meet her in Fort Gibson for a sexual tryst, investigators alleged.

Law officers said they found computer materials such as a hard drive, videos and compact discs on Rayner when he was arrested.

Rayner is the seventh person arrested by Fort Gibson police in the Internet sting operation they began four months ago.

Two men have pleaded guilty to federal charges and two more have been sentenced.