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Age of Consent Trips Up Christian Old-Timer

(CN) - A 67-year-old Georgia man faces up to 30 years in prison for having sex with a 16-year-old girl he met in a Christian chat room on the Internet. Mack Gordon Harris Sr., of Social Circle, Ga., pleaded guilty Monday to transporting a minor across state lines for sex.

Harris established a sexual relationship with the Maryland teen-ager and drove her to Virginia, where they had sex in a motel, federal prosecutors said.

Harris began chatting up the girl over the Internet when she was 15. He admitted that over the ensuing months he repeatedly suggested they have sexual intercourse and urged her to send naked pictures. He exposed himself on a computer Webcam and that the two engaged in phone sex, prosecutors said.

After she turned 16 - the legal age of consent in Maryland - he began traveling to visit her for sexual trysts.

In December 2005, Harris picked the girl up with the intent of taking her to Georgia to live with him, prosecutors said. As part of the plan he instructed her to pack belongings, write farewell notes to her family and to speak to no one during the trip back to Social Circle, a suburb of Atlanta with a population of 3,300.

If asked her age, Harris instructed the girl to say she was 25.

But Harris' plans unraveled after the couple stopped overnight Virginia hotel and had sex, prosecutors said. Apparently unbeknownst to Harris, the age of consent in Virginia is 18.

Harris is to be sentenced on Feb. 24. In addition to the possible sentence of 30 years in prison, he faces a fine of $250,000 and a lifetime of supervised release.

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