An Oklahoma man received a life sentence Wednesday after having been convicted of grooming a minor whom he later attempted to marry and flee the country with.
In April 2022, 28-year-old Alexander Sweet’s federal jury trial had concluded with a guilty verdict on four counts of production of child pornography, receipt of child pornography, possession of child pornography and the enticement of a minor. Friday, KWTV reported on his sentencing hearing where the victim sought the “maximum sentence.”
“This is at least the end for her,” Shena Burgess, the girls guardian told the outlet. “That way she can move on with her life.”
“It was very difficult for her to go to court and have to look at him, then testify, against him. But I think that gave her strength because she realized he was no longer in control of her,” she added.
Following his 2022 conviction, U.S. Attorney Clinton Johnson had noted in a press release, “Alexander Sweet targeted and groomed a vulnerable teenager struggling with the loss of two loved ones and a difficult childhood.”
“She showed tremendous courage when she faced him in a federal courtroom,” Johnson added. “This predator thought he was above the law but has now been convicted and sits behind bars where he can no longer victimize another child.”
The Justice Department explained that their investigation had begun in December 2020 after numerous reports Sweet had been engaged in a sexual relationship with the victim and learned that he had used drugs and alcohol to coerce her. He later took her across state lines to circumvent restrictions to marry the victim believing she would then be legally required to remain silent about his crimes.
“The victim testified that Sweet incorrectly believed that if the two were married, she could not testify against him. The victim’s guardian contacted the courthouse and advised them that she did not provide consent,” the DOJ release explained. “Sweet then took the minor to Arkansas to marry her without the guardian’s consent.”
“At that time, agents also learned that Sweet planned to leave the country with the minor,” the statement continued. “Sweet was arrested as he was leaving Tulsa driving a car with ‘Just Married’ written across the back window. The victim was also in the vehicle, and her hair had been bleached. Inside the vehicle, agents found ‘doll clothing,’ multiple electronic devices, over $1,000 in cash, United States passport applications for both Sweet and the minor victim, and a Polish citizenship application for Sweet. During a search of relevant accounts, authorities discovered multiple videos of Sweet engaged in sexual acts with the victim.”
FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Oklahoma City Field Office Edward Gray noted at the time of the conviction, “There is nothing more disgraceful than a person who intentionally exploits a child’s vulnerabilities to ingratiate themselves and manipulate their decisions. The FBI is, and will continue to be, determined in its efforts to ensure people like Mr. Sweet do not move forward with impunity.”
As for other potential groomers, Burgess expressed, “I don’t know if his conviction will have an effect on anyone out there who is perpetrating on a minor. But at least if individuals know that [the victim’s] voice was heard by the court system, everyone had a fair day in court, both the prosecution and defense, and luckily in this case the right thing happened.”
According to the outlet, the judge gave Sweet the maximum sentence, in part, because he had bragged about being sexually attracted to minors.
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