UPDATE: Canadian Man Who Took Kansas Girl Gets 8 Years

May 8, 2013

Updated 5/9/13 at 7:30 am: McGill Sentenced to 8 years in prison

A developmentally disabled Canadian man will spend eight years in prison for traveling with a 12-year-old Kansas girl he met playing "World of Warcraft" online.

Stewart Kenneth Cody McGill of Ontario was sentenced in Wichita's federal court Wednesday on one count of traveling with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor.

The plea agreement left U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten with little flexibility in handing down a sentence. The 21-year-old man pleaded guilty in February under a deal in which the parties agreed to a binding eight-year sentence, if the judge accepted it. In exchange, the government amended the original charge which would have mandated a minimum 10-year sentence upon conviction. McGill had been initially indicted on the more serious count of transportation of a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.

But Marten was clearly uncomfortable with his options, citing the defendant's "mental deficiencies" in discussions with attorneys. Marten could have flatly rejected the plea agreement and set the case for trial, but both the prosecution and defense noted that would have subjected McGill to even more prison time if convicted. The judge ultimately decided he was satisfied with the proposed sentence as an appropriate disposition of the case. "I wish you well," Marten told McGill after pronouncing sentence.

Authorities say McGill last year traveled to El Dorado to meet the girl. They were found a few days later near Potterville, Mich. The girl told authorities at the time she went with McGill willingly. Prosecutors say McGill told police he loved her.

McGill's defense attorney, Roger Falk, cited his client's "low mental capacity" outside the courtroom. He told reporters that his client's IQ score was in the 72 to 74 range, barely above what is considered mental retardation.

"Their chronological age might have been more of a difference than their developmental age," Falk said.

Nothing more happened between McGill and the girl during their time together other than him rubbing her over her jeans, Falk said. "Neither one of them thought it was a big deal," he said.

Falk said federal prosecutors refused to negotiate a lower recommended prison sentence, and had he taken the case to trial his client would not have been given credit for acceptance of responsibility and could have gotten as 12 years in federal prison if convicted.

Had the case been tried in state court, McGill would have faced life imprisonment with no chance of parole for 25 years in prison under "Jessica's Law" in Kansas, he said.

"All the sex offense sentences have become hugely Draconian," Falk said. "I can get more time for this touching over the jeans than if I committed second-degree murder."

As a Canadian citizen, McGill would be entitled to serve out his prison sentence in a Canadian prison under a reciprocal agreement between the two countries.