PREYING ON THE HELPLESS
Raid reveals rising exploitation, sexual abuse of children
THE suspected paedophile could see people banging on his front door. But were they neighbours? Cops? One had letters on her jacket.
As David Timothy Deakin googled “What is NBI?” from the laptop on his bed, the Philippines National Bureau of Investigation smashed their way into his cybersex den.
Children’s underwear, toddler shoes, cameras, bondage cuffs, meth pipes and stacks of hard drives cluttered the stuffy, twobedroom townhouse. Penciled on the wall, someone had scrawled “My Mom and Dad love me”. In his computer were videos and images of young boys and girls engaged in sex acts.
“Why is everyone asking about children coming into my house?” said Deakin, 53, bare-chested and slick with sweat, his breath sour and glasses foggy, his wrists bound with a zip tie.
Deakin’s arrest on April 20 reveals one of the darkest corners of the Internet, where paedophiles in the United States, Europe and elsewhere pay facilitators in the Philippines to sexually abuse children, even babies, directing their moves through online livestreaming services.
This new crime, webcam sex tourism, is spreading rapidly. The United Nations describes “alarming growth of new forms of child sexual exploitation online”. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) says it’s epidemic, and that at any given moment, 750,000 predators are online.
Almost every case stems from the Philippines, where good English speakers, increased Internet connection and widespread international cash transfer systems combine with widespread poverty and easy access to vulnerable kids. The youngest vicclean. tim ever, rescued a few weeks ago, was 2-months-old.
“This should serve as a warning,” said NBI anti-human trafficking chief Janet Francisco, who led the case.
“We will put them in jail and they will die in jail.”
Even as police burst in, Deakin was streaming illicit content through the anonymous Tor network. Agents said he had a webpage open to wipe his phone They tied him up with an iPhone charging cord before he could hit the button.
Investigators asked him repeatedly why he had obscene images on his computer.
“There was no children in front of the cam in my house, not even with their frigging mothers, as far as I know,” he said.
Deakin said he grew up in Peoria, Illinois, in a splintered family. He was licensed as a roofing contractor in his 30s, seasonal work which left winters free; he used the time to study computers. He moved to the Philippines in 2000 for a job setting up Internet service providers and installing Blackmagic livestreaming production programmes.
“You know what you’ve done in this room,” an investigator told Deakin.
She showed him a photo of several children. Shrugging, he said one of them was probably a few doors away with her cousin. Mintwo utes later, girls, 9 and 11, were rescued by police.
Victims of such raids need imand mediate long-term counselcare. ing and But in the tranquil garden of a shelter for sexual exsurvivors ploitation about 100km south of Deakin’s townhouse, 19Cassie year-old described her oryoungest deal.
The daughter in a poor family, Cassie believed the man who came to her village promising a better life if she’d go to the city with him. She was 12.
Within months, he bleached her skin, straightened her hair and began waking her at 4am to work.
“He needed a girl to show her whole body in front of the camera,” she said, adding that the abuse ended when her older sister found out and went to the police.
Some buyers try to brush off the abuse, saying they’re not directly touching the children.
“It’s not just a virtual crime. It is an actual crime,” said human rights attorney Sam Inocencio, who heads International Justice Mission’s Philippines office, which supports local law enforcement with investigators and attorneys.
“Online sexual exploitation is the most evil thing I’ve seen.”
In 2013, online sex exploitation of children gained global attention after researchers at the Netherlands-based nonprofit Terre des Hommes launched a realistic-looking animation of a 10-year-old Filipino girl named Sweetie. They took the fake girl on chat groups and online forums. Pedophiles swarmed. In 10 weeks, analysts identified 1,000 men in 71 countries who had tried to get illegal images. The proliferation of crimes, along with new mandatory reporting, led to 8.2 million reports last year to the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children’s CyberTipline related to online child sexual exploitation. That compares with 8.3 million reports in the 17 years prior.
Deakin’s bust turned out to be one of the largest seizures of its kind in the Philippines.
His tablet — which can be wiped clean and reset with a four digit code — had more than 4,000 contacts.
One computer had another 13 networked into it from servers, he said, were around the world. There were 30 hard drives.
Authorities from a village police substation said a housekeeper filed a complaint against Deakin last year: he wasn’t paying her, she said, and she was worried about what he was doing with children in the bedroom.
They visited his house, but had no authority for a raid.
Bondage cuffs used for sexual acts found during a raid on the home of suspected child webcam cybersex operator David Timothy Deakin, in Mabalacat, the Philippines. on April 20.
Hard drives recovered during a raid on Deakin’s home.
Deakin, with his hands tied behind his back, sits on his bed while his house is raided by the authorities.