Ulster Scots consultant held on child sex charge
A government consultant to one of Northern Ireland's cross-border bodies was today in custody in the US facing child sex charges.
Retired civil servant Mr John Stan Mallon, 62, was arrested after an elaborate Internet sex sting by the Child Exploitation Unit of the Chicago Police Department.
He has been charged with using the Internet to coerce a child into having sex and if convicted could face up to 15 years in prison.
Mr Mallon, a consultant with the agency which promotes the Ulster Scots language, is accused of communicating on an Internet chatline with what he believed to be a 14-year-old girl, but who was in reality a police officer.
He was arrested last weekend as he waited outside his hotel, allegedly to meet the girl.
When officers raided his hotel room, they found a video camera ready to roll, a dozen condoms and a gold necklace and a cross which they believe he was going to give the girl as a present.
According to the district attorney's office, Mr Mallon, who was alleged to have used the name Big Daddy Mel, had sent a number of explicit e-mails to "Marny" whom he believed to be a 14-year-old schoolgirl.
It is believed that Mr Mallon, who had tried to pass himself off as a younger man, had chatted online with the girl since early February. He then made arrangements to travel to Chicago allegedly to have sex with her.
Chairman of the Ulster Scots Agency, Ulster Unionist peer Lord Laird said members were "devastated and disappointed" at Mr Mallon's arrest.
"It's a major tragedy for his family," he added.