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Mo. man to plead guilty in sex trafficking case

A Missouri man who allegedly took a Medfield teenager he met at a library to Rhode Island to have sex with him and other men for money has agreed to plead guilty in federal court in that state and faces at least 10 years in prison.

Stephen Ardrey, 30, of Springfield, Mo., has agreed to plead guilty to charges of trafficking a person under 18 and transportation of a minor with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct.

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Under minimum-mandatory sentencing laws, he faces at least 10 years and up to life in prison, according to court records. He is slated to plead guilty in US District Court in Providence on Feb. 26.

He appeared briefly in court and was formally arraigned on Tuesday.

Authorities said that Ardrey met the victim, 17, at a library in Medfield in September 2013 and persuaded her to travel with him to Rhode Island, knowing she was under 18. Authorities were alerted four days later after an unknown tipster spotted them walking in Coventry, R.I.

“This individual’s quick response by notifying law enforcement was paramount to putting an end to the anguish the victim’s family was experiencing not knowing their daughter’s whereabouts,” US Attorney Peter F. Neronha said at the time of the arrest. “By smartly alerting law enforcement, he furthered the investigation, which led to the arrest and detention of the defendant.”

According to court records, Ardrey advertised her for prostitution on a website, and she had sex for a fee on at least one occasion.

Authorities said that Ardrey also took nude and partially nude photos of the teenager. He was not charged with those crimes as part of the plea agreement with prosecutors.

His attorney, Kevin Fitzgerald, of Rhode Island, was not available for comment Wednesday.

Milton J. Valencia can be reached at mvalencia@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @miltonvalencia.
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