THE trial date for Surrey youth soccer coach Kuldip “Kelly” Singh Mahal, 47, of Surrey was set for April 27 at a Seattle court on Thursday (February 26).
Emily Langlie, spokesperson for the U.S. attorney’s office for the western district of Washington, told The VOICE that Mahal, who was arrested February 3 at a park in Burlington, Washington, where he was expecting to meet a 12-year-old girl whom he had tried to allegedly entice into having sexual contact with him, pleaded not guilty. He will remain in U.S. custody.
On February 9, a Seattle judge had ordered Mahal to remain in U.S. custody until his trial as he apparently didn’t trust the Canadian justice system to monitor Mahal.
According to acting United States Attorney Annette L. Hayes, Mahal responded to a Craigslist posting and began communicating with what he believed to be a 12-year-old girl. In fact, he sent multiple sexually explicit messages and photos to an undercover agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Mahal, who works as a facilities manager for a Vancouver, B.C. tech firm, crossed the border into the U.S. at Blaine on February 3 and headed toward the park where he had agreed to meet the girl. Mahal was then a volunteer coach for a U-16 soccer team in B.C.
According to the complaint filed in the case, Mahal responded to a posting on the Vancouver, B.C. Craigslist site on January 15. Mahal sent a picture of his arms and upper body, and expressed interest in a sexual relationship. Mahal continued to communicate with the undercover agent even after the agent said she was 12 years old. In fact Mahal is alleged to have sent sexually explicit photos of himself and repeatedly requested the “girl” send sexually explicit photos of herself back to him. Mahal allegedly engaged in lengthy sexualized chats via text message with the “girl.”
The Surrey United Soccer club suspended Mahal. Executive Director Martin Foden said that Mahal, who had gone through a criminal record check, had been an exemplary coach for 11 years.