California man charged with kidnapping Idaho girl

August 25, 2021 GMT

NAMPA, Idaho (AP) — The Canyon County Sheriff’s Office says a California man has been charged with kidnapping after he was found in a hotel with an 11-year-old girl from Nampa, Idaho.

The sheriff’s office said in a prepared statement Wednesday that they began investigating on Monday after the girl was reported as a runaway. When they couldn’t find her through her friends, investigators searched the child’s cellphone records and found frequent communication with a person who had a California phone number.

The sheriff’s office said further investigation led deputies to find the child at a hotel with a 20-year-old man.

Brian Sangjoon Lee of Granada Hills, California, was arrested on first-degree kidnapping charges. He is being held on $1 million bond. Online court records do not show if he has been assigned an attorney, and a call to the Canyon County public defender’s office went unanswered Wednesday afternoon.

Lee has not yet had an opportunity to enter a plea.

The Canyon County Sheriff’s Office said investigators believe the girl met Lee through an online gaming program, and that Lee agreed to travel from Los Angeles to Idaho to bring the child back to his home.

Sheriff Kieran Donahue said the deputies’ quick actions saved the girl, and said the case serves as a reminder of the dangers posed by online predators.

“Words cannot express my gratitude for their work in stopping what could have ended in a very grave situation for this poor girl,” Donahue said.