Irish tennis coach caught trying to meet child, 14, for sex in the United States

Irish tennis coach caught trying to meet child, 14, for sex in the United States

AN Irish tennis coach has been charged with attempting to solicit sex from an underage girl in the United States.

Mark O'Neill, 36, was arrested last month after he attempted to meet an undercover police officer posing as a 14-year-old girl.

O'Neill, originally from Dublin, was a top ranked junior tennis player in Ireland before moving to the US.

He had been employed at Hillcrest Racquet Club in Reading, Pennsylvania as a racquetball and tennis coach to both male and female junior players.

The Irishman has now been charged with unlawful contact with a minor, attempted statutory sexual assault and criminal use of a communication facility.

“This case is disturbing because the defendant regularly coaches young women the same age as the one he attempted to inappropriately proposition,” said Attorney General Shapiro in a statement.

“Our agents and prosecutors are working relentlessly to get every perpetrator out of our communities and to keep Pennsylvania’s children safe.”

O'Neill had communicated with an undercover agent posing as a minor online over the course of three months beginning in January 2018.

Despite being told that he was communicating with a 14-year-old girl, the 36-year-old continued to ask for her address and solicited for unlawful sexual contact.

On March 24, O'Neill arranged to meet the girl and arrived at a pre-arranged meeting location in Pennsylvania.

He was arrested without incident and taken into custody by agents from the Office of Attorney General.

“My office will prosecute anyone that tries to prey on children to the fullest extent of the law,” Attorney General Shapiro said.

“Thanks to strong law enforcement collaboration between Bethlehem City Police Department, the Homeland Security Investigations and my office, we were able to take one more child predator off our streets.”

Mark O'Neill's bail has been set at $500,000 (€604,291).