Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Los Angeles: Ex-Marine Accused of Sex w/ Cambodian Children

Violence against Cambodian women and girls is a large problem;
NGO's like the
Cambodian Women's Crisis Center in Phnom Penh aid trafficked girls

LOS ANGELES - A retired U.S. Marine captain has been charged for allegedly having sex with young girls while working as a teacher in Cambodia, federal authorities said Friday.

Michael Joseph Pepe, 53, arrived Wednesday at Los Angeles International Airport accompanied by federal agents after being expelled from Cambodia, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a statement.

A judge ordered him held without bond pending a March 12 arraignment in federal court. He faces one count of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign place and up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

It was unclear whether Pepe, whose last known U.S. address was in Oxnard, had retained an attorney. The phone numbers of Pepe's father and sister, who live in Ventura County, were not listed.

Pepe was arrested in Phnom Penh in June by Cambodian police investigating allegations he sexually abused four girls ages 9 to 12.

According to authorities, the children told federal investigators they lived at Pepe's home and were paid $1 to $5 for sexual favors.

"This is an appalling case, one of the worst I've ever encountered," said Robert Schoch, special agent in charge of the ICE office of investigations in Los Angeles. "You can't go outside our borders as a U.S. citizen and believe that you can treat children this way."

The allegations were brought to authorities' attention by two non-governmental agencies working to combat human trafficking in the impoverished country, Schoch said...

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT CBSNews.com

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