YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — The U.S. sailor arrested in an online child sex solicitation sting in Australia over the weekend was to appear in a Sydney-area court Tuesday for a bail hearing.

Petty Officer 2nd Class David Wayne Budd, an electronic technician with the Navy’s San Diego-based Southwest Regional Maintenance Center, was in the country participating in a U.S.-Australia military exercise.

He has been held without bail in Australian custody since his arrest Saturday, according to a spokeswoman for the General Local Court in Parramatta.

“So far he has not entered a plea,” she told Stars and Stripes on Monday.

Also in question is whether Budd will be transferred into U.S. military custody.

Mary Scholl, spokeswoman for the U.S. Consulate in Sydney, said a request has been sent asking the Australian government to waive jurisdiction and remand Budd to U.S. military custody.

“If there is any further movement on this case it will come from the Australian attorney general,” she told Stripes.

According to the Australian Associated Press, Budd’s lawyer, Tanya Liebenow, requested adjournment of a Monday bail hearing pending the resolution of a number of unspecified issues.

“Unfortunately we are not in a position to proceed with a bail application today,” the national news agency quoted Liebenow as telling the magistrate in court Monday.

Stripes’ attempts to reach Liebenow about the unspecified issues were unsuccessful. The Navy’s 7th Fleet, which has operational control over the military exercise, referred media questions to Scholl.

Parramatta police said in a news release that Budd, 28, participated in an online conversation Thursday with a child exploitation detective posing as a 14-year-old girl.

On Saturday he flew from Rockhampton, where he was participating in the military exercise, to Sydney thinking he would be meeting the girl and was arrested at Kingsford Smith International Airport, according to police.

Detectives arresting him were with the Internet exploitation unit of the New South Wales Police Child Protection and Sex Crimes Squad.

Parramatta police Senior Constable Paul Bugden said Budd is accused of violating a law that prohibits using the Internet to groom a person under the age of 16 for sex.

He said Budd faces imprisonment if found guilty.

The Navy sent Budd to Australia to participate in Talisman Saber 2007, a series of sea, land and air exercises conducted biennially in Australia with the United States.

Training, involving some 20,000 U.S. and 7,500 Australian servicemembers, began June 19 and is scheduled to conclude July 2.

Unit tracks down exploitation on the Web

New South Wales Police Force’s Child Exploitation Internet Unit is a part of the agency’s Child Protection and Sex Crimes Squad. Its job is to investigate online child sexual abuse and exploitation of children.

Its duties include seeking out online predators trying to procure and set up children for sexual abuse and exploitation.

“The use of the Internet by predators is an emerging trend and is growing because the Web is so widely used by people of all ages,” Detective Superintendent Helen Begg, commander of the squad, wrote in an e-mail to Stripes.

“Online chat rooms and social networking sites have proven to be potentially dangerous destinations for children who are unsupervised, or who have not been provided with sufficient information and guidance to ward off approaches by sexual predators,” she wrote.

Additionally, the unit investigates the production, distribution and possession of images of child sexual abuse being stored, traded and transmitted by any telecommunications or computer technology.

“Advances in technology have been embraced by sex offenders who have proven to be exceptionally skilled at using new modes of communication to exploit and harm children,” Begg wrote.

— Chris Fowler

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