CANYON COUNTY, Idaho — A 20-year-old California man is in the Canyon County Jail, accused of enticing and kidnapping an 11-year-old girl from Nampa.
Canyon County Sheriff's deputies on Monday responded to a runaway report, but were not able to find the girl through friends and school administrators. The sheriff's office then searched the girl's cell phone records, and found that she had frequently been communicating with an unknown person with a California phone number.
The Canyon County Sheriff's Office said deputies and detectives located the girl at a hotel along with Brian Sangjoon Lee of Granada Hills, California.
Deputies took Lee to the sheriff's office for additional questioning. Detectives who interviewed Lee determined that he met the girl through an online gaming program before the two began communicating by phone calls and text messages. Eventually, the sheriff's office said, an agreement was made that Lee would travel to Idaho from the Los Angeles area to pick up the girl and take her to his home California.
Lee appeared in court Tuesday on a charge of first-degree kidnapping. He is being held in the Canyon County Jail on a $1 million bond. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for September 7. Under the law, Lee is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in court.
The sheriff's office said the investigation remains open, and additional charges are possible.
Sheriff Kieran Donahue commended the deputies and detectives who investigated this case and brought Lee into custody.
"Their actions very likely saved this young girl's life. Words cannot express my gratitude for their work in stopping what could have ended in a very grave situation for this poor girl," Donahue said in a news release. "This case also serves as a stark reminder to all parents about the dangers online predators pose to children in our community and across the nation. Whether people want to believe it or not, human and sex trafficking certainly exists in the Treasure Valley and throughout Idaho and beyond. We have to take the blinders off and address these issues with all resources available to us."
The Idaho Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force has more information about keeping your children safe online. If you suspect a child you know is a victim of an internet crime, you can also submit a tip through the ICAC website.
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