Hurricane business owner pleads guilty to enticement, child porn possession

Sean Timothy O’Neill, of Hurricane, booking photo posted in Washington County, Utah, Feb. 1, 2018 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A Hurricane man accused of using Facebook to pursue an underage girl for sexual purposes has accepted a plea agreement with federal prosecutors.

Sean Timothy O’Neill, 49, pleaded guilty to attempted enticement of a minor and possession of child pornography in federal court in St. George Wednesday afternoon. O’Niell, owner of the defunct Hurrikin Express shuttle service, admitted to several offenses as part of his plea agreement.

According to a press release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Utah, he admitted to using Facebook over a period of more than two years to entice a girl he knew to be underage to engage in sexual activity.

O’Neill also admitted that he possessed an electronic device that contained more than 90 explicit images and three video segments of prepubescent children, some of which depicted the children being sexually abused.

While his sentencing date is still several months out, his plea agreement includes a mandatory 10-year prison sentence without parole and at least five years of supervised release after serving his time.

O’Neill, who has a previous conviction of enticement of a minor in Michigan, still faces several additional felony charges in the state of Utah relating to the same case, including unlawful sexual contact with a 16-17 year old.

Read more: Southern Utah shuttle service owner slapped with 21 felonies in sexual misconduct case

Sean Timothy O’Neill, of Hurricane, booking photo posted in Washington County, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of the Hurricane City Police Department, St. George News

O’Neill first came to the attention of authorities in Southern Utah in May 2017 when a 14-year-old LaVerkin girl called police to report that he was following her in his car and asking her what she was doing, according to court documents. A woman also told police she witnessed O’Neill yell at the girl and then pull into a parking lot as if he was waiting for her.

At that time, police arrested him for allegedly failing to register as a sex offender in Utah after moving to the state from Michigan in November 2016.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, O’Neill’s primary motivation for moving to Southern Utah was to sexually pursue the girl he had been communicating with over Facebook.

In January 2018, he was arrested again after the girl, who was 17 at the time, told police that he picked her up from her home in Hildale and brought her to his residence in Hurricane to have sex.

According to the probable cause statement written in support of his arrest, the girl told police she did not want to have sex but felt she couldn’t tell O’Neill no.

“She said it was rough sex because she felt like a rag doll,” police wrote in the statement. “He would want her to participate and when she wouldn’t he would get upset and throw her around.”

O’Neill’s sentence for the federal charges is scheduled to be handed down by U.S. District Judge David Nuffer on the morning of Aug. 20. He is scheduled for a review hearing for the state charges on April 30.

Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

Email: jwitham@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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