PREYING ON THE HELP­LESS

Raid re­veals ris­ing ex­ploita­tion, sex­ual abuse of chil­dren

New Straits Times - - World -

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.

AP PIX

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.