CHIANG MAI, THAILAND, July 16, 2015
An American man is behind bars and facing charges for exploiting and abusing young teenage boys living on the city’s streets. In Thailand, he faces trafficking and sexual assault charges, and he may face additional charges abroad.
The 56-year-old American man was arrested on Wednesday, July 8, after IJM and local police have been investigating the case for more than six months.
The alleged predator would arrange meetings with boys at bars, buy them meals, drinks and other gifts, then lure them to small hotels to abuse them. A 15-year-old boy bravely reported what was happening to another local NGO that works with children living on streets. (The boy is now safe at a shelter.)
Regional police and IJM coordinated efforts to track the American man and locate other boys who may have been serially abused. A week before the arrest, a 14-year-old boy came forward with a final piece of evidence that secured the case.
On July 7, the operation team—made up of local police, regional police, immigration officers, IJM and two other NGOs—staked out at the suspect’s apartment. The team slept in shifts so they could conduct surveillance throughout the night.
At 11am, they entered the man’s apartment and served the arrest and search warrants. The team carefully documented dozens of pieces of evidence, including children’s toys and incriminating videos. He is now in custody in Thailand awaiting trial.
"[This American man] is dangerous for other children, when we investigated, we heard so much about his behavior. He’s a drug addict, his situation is severe, and he needs treatment,” says IJM Thailand’s Wibunrat Ladaphongpattana, who works with child survivors of sexual violence.
She explains that the road ahead for the survivors will be long. The stigma of shame, particularly against boys, is very strong. This is why IJM will keep following up with the boys as well as the aftercare shelters where they can receive ongoing care and counseling. IJM’s legal team will also support the emerging case and any other legal actions brought against the suspect.
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