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Millionaire Gave Flying Lessons to Underage Girl. Then, This

Stephen Mell faces up to 5 years on sex charges
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 19, 2019 3:40 PM CDT
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Stock image of a private plane.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – A New Jersey millionaire who seemed to have everything—a family, a helicopter, two planes, a brokerage firm—is pleading guilty to sex charges after allegedly putting one of his planes on autopilot to have sex with an underage girl, USA Today reports. Stephen Mell, 53, faces up to five years in prison and five more of supervised release when he appears in federal court on Tuesday for sentencing. Otherwise Mell appears to be a respectable community man who started his own charity, earned a master's degree in psychology, and has a wife and three children. But his knack for flying led to trouble when he gave flying lessons to the 15-year-old girl. A federal complaint lists many of the alleged sex acts and sexual texts they shared.

"If you are nervous it will hurt more," he apparently texted her. "When are turned on is when it will feel ok." He also urged her to get birth control and, about six months in, texted her that "the sex is amazing but so is being around you." But according to a brief backing Mell's bail release, there's more: Mell fell "into a spiral of depression" when two close friends perished in a 2011 crash of a helicopter he owned. Mell was supposed to be on board but backed out due to a last-minute conflict; he later had survivor's guilt and took antidepressants. In another underage sex case, 16 men—several in positions of authority—were arrested last month in New Jersey for allegedly going to a house to have sex with 14- and 15-year-olds, the New York Times reports. (Read more underage sex stories.)

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