A former Redondo Beach resident pleaded guilty Monday to a federal criminal charge for targeting girls on the internet and enticing them to engage in masochistic abuse for his sexual gratification.

Matthew Locher, 31, entered his plea to one count of sexual exploitation of a child for the purpose of producing a sexually explicit visual depiction, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Locher targeted girls beset with depression, suicidal thoughts and anorexia, and groomed them online to engage in self-mutilation and other harmful behavior for his gratification, his plea agreement states.

U.S. District Judge Dolly M. Gee scheduled a Jan. 17 sentencing hearing, at which time Locher will face a sentence of between 15 and 30 years in federal prison, prosecutors said.

Locher enticed two of the minor victims to send images of themselves committing acts of self-harm, which included cutting their breasts. Locher used racial epithets to devalue one of the victims and entice her to self-mutilate, according to papers filed in Los Angeles federal court.

Locher enticed a third victim, who was 12 years old, to run away from home in Ohio and travel to California to engage in illegal sexual activity with him. The girl began the journey after setting a fire in her family’s home — an unsuccessful attempt to kill her parents in a plot Locher encouraged, the plea agreement states.

According to a search warrant unsealed after his arrest, Locher allegedly “enticed, encouraged, and instructed the victims to produce child pornography and child sexual abuse material in the form of sexually explicit images and video recordings of themselves to send to Locher over the internet.”

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