Former GOP aide fesses up to 'imaginary' teen trysts
Defense attorney had claimed boy made it up; said client was 'conservative guy, caring'
A former GOP congressional aide has pleaded guilty to molesting two male teens, including the 13-year-old son of a family with whom the staffer lived while working on Capitol Hill.
37-year-old Jeffrey Ray Nielsen, who has worked previously for Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), as well the Republican chair of California's Orange County, agreed to two felony counts of lewd acts upon a child, reports the Associated Press. A jury had deadlocked at an earlier trial this year -- in which Nielsen was accused of engaging in sexual acts with a 14-year-old boy he met on the internet -- and prosecutors were prepared to bring additional charges in a retrial.
The plea deal is expected to bring a sentence of three years in state prison, according to the Los Angeles Times.
"Prosecutors contended that Nielsen had met the 14-year-old victim on a gay Internet site and driven the boy to his Ladera Ranch condominium, where the two engaged in oral sex," the Times reports. "The boy, a high school freshman, told a friend who alerted school authorities." After his arrest in 2003, police found "thousands of images" of child pornography on his home and work computers.
Following his initial mistrial, and a subsequent confession, prosecutors also "filed charges involving a 13-year-old they said Nielsen had molested repeatedly while living at the boy's family's Virginia home in 1994," according to the paper.
As reported by California's Orange County Weekly during Nielsen's first trial, the defendant's legal team had originally argued that the 14-year-old boy's claims of a sexual relationship were imaginary.
"Did Mr. Nielsen and Mr. Doe meet? Yeah, they did. Did they go to his house? Yeah, they did. But it's a hopeful leap to believe that they must have had sex," said Nielsen defense attorney Paul Meyer in February, according to the Weekly. Claiming the boy "built a fantasy," Myer warned the jury not to be misled. "Jeff Nielsen is a conservative guy, responsible, caring and very family-oriented. He cares about people."
The Weekly also claims some vindication in seeing Nielsen cop to a plea agreement. In a Tuesday story, the paper's R. Scott Moxley writes that Nielsen's retrial was founded on charges "based partly on the Weekly's 2006 exposes detailing Nielsen's relationship with the Virginia seventh-grader. Meyer, who has specialized in representing pedophiles, angrily claimed the public couldn’t trust this 'tabloid' paper's reporting."
A Democratic aide to Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) was arrested last week for allegedly attempting to arrange a sexual rendezvous with an FBI informant posing as a 13-year-old boy. James Michael McHaney, who worked as a scheduler for Cantwell, was fired from the job on Friday and subsequently charged with violating the Attempted Child Exploitation Act.
Read the Orange County Weekly's full account of the case here.