Criminal Justice

Lawyer pleads guilty to prostitution charge linked to 'sugar daddy' website

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A San Diego employment attorney who pleaded guilty to a federal prostitution charge linked to an online “sugar daddy” dating site also admitted to sexual contact with an underage girl.

William David Turley pleaded guilty Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California to a charge of enticing and coercing a female to engage in prostitution, according to a press release from the U.S. attorney’s office.

The San Diego Union-Tribune also has coverage.

Prosecutors say that, according to Turley’s plea agreement, he met a woman on the SugarDaddyMeet website in April 2018 and paid her to engage in sexual acts. The following month, he persuaded her to fly from California to Las Vegas to meet with him.

Turley paid the woman’s travel expenses, and she understood that she would be engaging in sexual acts with him in exchange for monetary compensation, prosecutors say. Turley gave the woman between $1,500 and $1,800 in cash.

According to Turley’s plea agreement, he also began communicating with a minor who told him she was in high school and that her parents had taken away her cellphone because of her poor academic performance, prosecutors say. In May 2018, Turley met with the minor, purchased a cellphone for her and engaged in a sexual act with her in his car.

Prosecutors say the minor told Turley she wanted to stop, and he paid her $300.

A federal grand jury indicted Turley on charges of sex trafficking of a minor in October and a superseding charging document accused him of the crime last week, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The San Diego Union-Tribune also reports that Turley’s lawyers argued in several motions during court proceedings that Turley never knew the girl was underage. The lawyers said in court documents that “there is not a single allegation Mr. Turley intentionally had inappropriate communications with any minor.”

“To the contrary, the alleged victim in this case professed—both online and in person—to be an 18-year old, high school senior,” they said.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, a federal prosecutor said the sex trafficking charge involving the minor is expected to be dismissed at Turley’s sentencing hearing. The plea agreement also shows he is not required to register as a sex offender.

Turley will be sentenced by Judge Anthony J. Battaglia on March 2. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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