Missouri man sentenced to 14 years in RI sex trafficking case

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) —  A Missouri man who admitted to taking a teen with disabilities across state lines with plans to engage in criminal sexual activity was sentenced to 14 years in prison on Tuesday.

Per a plea agreement entered in February, Stephen Ardrey, 30, pleaded guilty to one count each of trafficking a person under the age of 18 and transportation of a minor with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct.

Authorities say surveillance video showed Ardrey taking the developmentally delayed girl, who he met online, from a library in Medfield, Mass., in September. She was missing for three days before someone saw the two walking down Rt. 3 in Coventry, recognized the victim as a missing person, and called police.

Coventry police then arrested Ardrey and placed him in federal custody.

According to prosecutors, evidence shows the two met in an online chat room in 2012 and over time, conversations between the two became sexual in nature. Ardrey then took the girl to Rhode Island and posted photos of her online with an advertisement reading “Sweet girl next door – 19”, prosecutors said. In early emails the teen previously indicated that she was just 17.

The victim’s parents, Maureen and Michael Thompson, said they were pleased with Ardrey’s sentencing.

“Clearly, he knows he was wrong,” Maureen Thompson said. “It was important to us that, yes, she be found, and that he was going to be punished.”

“Going into it… we both said we’re going to be good with whatever the outcome is,” Michael Thompson said. “I think they [the prosecutors] did a good job.”

Ardrey said he suffers from a mental illness. He apologized to the Thompson before his sentencing.

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