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PH first: American in online child exploitation case convicted via videoconference

5/29/2020 11:10:00 AM

An American national was sentenced to life imprisonment and was ordered to pay a P2-million fine as he was convicted for human trafficking in a videoconference promulgation by an Angeles City Court - the first in such proceedings in the country.

Angeles City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Irineo Pangilinan Jr. found David Timothy Deakin guilty of forcing children into cybersex shows for foreign customers in Angeles City in 2017, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said in a statement. It was the first trafficking conviction handed out via videoconferencing, as courts set down measures limiting court hearings to online activities amid a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the DOJ said.

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Children aged 9 and 11 were rescued when Deakin was arrested on April 20, 2017 at his rented house in an operation by the National Bureau of Investigation, which received information about the American's criminal activities from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Computers and other devices were recovered, along with sex toys, hard drives, and drug paraphernalia.Deakin was convicted for violating Republic Act No. 10364, the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012.“Deakin’s conviction is testament to what good coordination between and among domestic and foreign law enforcers, prosecutors, social services, and other members of the criminal justice sector can achieve in the battle against child traffickers and child sex offenders,” the DOJ said.

The conviction serves “as a stern reminder to those similarly minded that even during the time of quarantine, the government remains steadfast in exerting all efforts and resources to ensure the safety of children, and putting behind bars those who prey upon them.” 

The International Justice Mission, in a statement, said the conviction was “inspiring,” citing hurdles in getting Deakin prosecuted. IJM coordinated with Angeles prosecutors and provided assistance through lawyers during litigation. They also took custody of 8 of Deakin’s victims. 

“The journey we had to ensure David Timothy Deakin’s accountability was fraught with so many legal challenges and in the process of securing justice for the victim survivors, caseworkers from the law enforcement, social services, and prosecution teams have been exposed to hundreds of traumatic child sexual exploitation materials but in the end, righteousness prevailed,” he said. 

IJM National Director Samson Inocencio Jr. commended how the court conviction was delivered despite an ongoing pandemic. “This conviction came out at an unprecedented time of pandemic when things seemed to come to as stop as people are quarantined in their homes. But justice cannot be stopped,” he said. 

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