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Saudi Air Force sergeant accused of child rape in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - A Saudi Air Force sergeant in the United States for training has been arrested on child sexual assault charges over accusations he raped a 13-year-old boy in a Las Vegas hotel, and bail was set on Friday at just over $1.2 million, authorities said.

Mazen Alotaibi is accused of raping the boy on New Year's Eve at the Circus Circus hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, where both Alotaibi and the boy were guests, according to a criminal complaint.

Police said that Alotaibi, 23, had been visiting Las Vegas while temporarily stationed at Lackland Air Force base in Texas.

The man's defense lawyer said his client had been in Las Vegas with a group of Saudi military friends ahead of the impending end of his U.S. training, and had spent the hours before the incident drinking.

"He was two weeks from graduating. He came to Las Vegas to celebrate. It was New Year's Eve," the attorney, Don Chairez, told Reuters, complaining that Alotaibi was intoxicated when he was interrogated by police and that he admitted he may have had sexual contact with the boy only under aggressive questioning.

"There is no evidence my client dragged this kid to the hotel room," Chairez said, adding that the boy had approached the Saudi group looking to buy marijuana. "They repeatedly tried to get rid of him."

A court clerk said that bail was set for Alotaibi at more than $1.2 million on Friday on charges including child sexual assault and coercion.

Las Vegas media reported that the judge ordered that Alotaibi surrender his passport and remain in the United States if he posts bail. He could face life in prison if convicted of the most serious charges, his lawyer said.

(Reporting by Cynthia Johnston; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Bob Burgdorfer)

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