Houston mom accused of soliciting teen online


Published: Friday, January 8, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 8, 2010 at 12:10 a.m.

HOUSTON — A Houston mother remained jailed Wednesday after authorities said she flew to Canada and lured a 16-year-old boy, whom she allegedly had an online sexual relationship with for more than a year, away from his home.

Lauri Price, 42, has been charged by prosecutors in Houston with two counts of online solicitation of a minor and one count of enticing a child with the intent to commit a felony.

Authorities say Price started having an online sexual relationship with the boy, then 15 years old, in September 2008 after meeting him on the Internet video game "World of Warcraft," said Donna Hawkins, a spokeswoman for the Harris County District Attorney's Office.

After going to the teen's home in Barrie, Ontario, in February and failing to lure the boy away, Price continued her online relationship with him, said Lt. Matthew Gray with the Houston Metro Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce.

"She talked to him about sex and a lot of different stuff. It was a very long, long grooming process. She thought that in February she had him at that time. She continued to work on him until she finally felt she broke through," he said.

On Dec. 29, Price flew back to Canada and lured the teen from his home, taking him to a hotel in Rosseau, about 70 miles away, and having sex with him, Gray said.

"From our investigation, we have thousands of e-mails and instant messages to go through," Gray said. "She was very persistent to say the least."

Price was arrested early Tuesday morning at Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport after returning from Canada. She made her initial court appearance Wednesday.

Her attorney, Skip Cornelius, said he finds it both interesting and sad that Texas authorities are prosecuting Price for solicitation even though the boy was old enough in Canada to give consent.

Price is not facing charges in Canada related to sexual assault or other charges because the age of consent in that country is 16. In Texas, it is 17.

"The state authorities are taking the position the solicitation, since it occurred in Texas and in Texas he's a minor, is a crime. We'll have to see," Cornelius said.

Before leaving his home, the teen left a note for his mother saying he was running away with Price. Authorities in Barrie were looking for the two when an off-duty police officer in Rosseau spotted them at the hotel, Gray said.

After releasing Price, Canadian police, knowing she could face possible charges in the United States, told U.S. authorities when she would be returning to Houston, Gray said.

Price has worked as a permanent substitute teacher with the Cypress-Fairbanks school district in suburban Houston, and has four children, Gray said. Prosecutors said after her arrest, Price was fired from her job.

Price is being held in the Harris County Jail under bonds totaling $20,000. Cornelius said he expected his client would be free on bond by Thursday.

If convicted, she faces from two to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 for each charge, Hawkins said.

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