Jim Walsh Cherry Hill Courier-Post
Published 8:27 PM EST Mar 5, 2019
PHILADELPHIA – A federal judge has set a sentencing date for a Florida man who took a 12-year-old Collingswood girl to a hotel for sex.
Liam Heim, 22, pleaded guilty Tuesday to two federal crimes in connection with an incident last year involving a Collingswood Middle School student.
Authorities said Heim traveled to South Jersey on March 28, 2018, several weeks after meeting the girl in an online chat group.
He and the girl spent about 36 hours together in a Philadelphia hotel room before police found the child and arrested Heim during the early-morning hours of March 31.
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Heim pleaded guilty to crossing state lines to engage in illicit sexual conduct and to taking a minor across state lines with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, according to a court record.
He admitted guilt under an “open plea,” meaning U.S. District Judge Petrese Tucker will determine his penalty at a June 10 hearing.
Heim, who has been held since his arrest, will remain at the Federal Detention Center in Center City.
The St. Petersburg resident faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison, but could receive a longer term, according to a filing by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia.
Each of the crimes has a potential maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, the filing said.
It says sexual activity between Heim and the girl, identified only as K.S., constituted “the rape of a child.”
Heim, who admitted knowing K.S. was a minor, could also face supervised release for a period ranging from five years to a lifetime, according to the filing.
If he violates supervised release “by committing one or more specified child exploitation offenses, the court must revoke supervised release and require the defendant to serve an additional term of imprisonment of at least five years,” it said.
Heim and K.S. met online in mid-February 2018, then began communicating by texts and phone calls, according to the federal prosecutor’s office.
It alleged Heim urged K.S. to provide “sexually provocative images of herself” and repeatedly expressed a desire to have sex with her. By the time he flew to South Jersey, Heim and K.S. “talked to each other every day,” the federal prosecutor’s office said.
K.S. was reported missing when she did not return home from school. A search ended when police tracked her cellphone signal to a hotel near Philadelphia International Airport.
Jim Walsh: @jimwalsh_cp; 856-486-2646; [email protected]
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