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Press Release: First Foreigner Convicted for Cybersex Trafficking Offences

Justice Proves Unstoppable as International Justice Mission records first E-Promulgation

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – May 26, 2020 will be a date that will long be remembered as David Timothy Deakin will go down as the first foreigner to be convicted for trafficking offences through online proceedings in the Philippines. Deakin was declared guilty of large-scale qualified trafficking in persons and was sentenced to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of PHP 2 million. He was also ordered to pay each victim the amount of Php 500,000 representing moral damages and an additional Php 100,000 as exemplary damages as civil indemnity for his crimes.

Judge Irineo P. Pangilinan, Jr. rendered the decision through video conferencing from Branch 58, of the Regional Trial Court in Angeles City, Pampanga.

This high-profile case blazed national headlines two years ago as the actual arrest was reported on by local and international media outfits, putting the crime of online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC) in the global spotlight. Despite being a tech savvy offender, Deakin was still caught through global cooperation efforts with foreign law enforcement.

On April 20, 2017, operatives of the National Bureau of Investigation Anti-Human Trafficking Division (NBI-AHTRAD) led by its Chief, Atty. Janet Francisco, arrested American citizen Deakin, in his rented house in Angeles City, Pampanga where he was found in possession of hard drives containing child sexual exploitation materials (CSEM), sex toys and drug-use paraphernalia. A referral from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation revealed that Deakin was sexually abusing Filipino children, recording the abuse and selling it to foreign customers online.

“Let this sentence be a message to OSEC criminals: this is a war you can't win. We at NBI-AHTRAD and NBI as a whole, are strongly pursuing those who abuse our children and exploit them through the internet. You will not get away with this." said Chief Janet Francisco of the National Bureau of Investigation Anti Trafficking in Person Division as she refers to the unfolding of events that followed Deakin’s arrest. She commended her unit and the entire National Bureau of Investigation working together as a team to get the job done.

International Justice Mission (IJM) supported that rescue operation and its lawyers in collaboration with the Angeles City Prosecutor’s Office have been supporting the litigations against Deakin until this conviction.

“To behold this e-conviction of a high-profile criminal in the middle of a pandemic is so inspiring. The journey we had to take 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. We thank our LE partners, the NBI-AHTRAD and US FBI, without whom the prosecution of this case would not have been successful. This proves that international cooperation is truly indispensable in fighting a hidden crime that transcends national borders,” said Atty. Kathleen Piccio-Labay, Senior Lead Lawyer for Prosecution Development from IJM’s Manila Field Office.

IJM social workers have taken care of eight of Deakin’s victims – all of whom have been on the road to recovery and restoration. Upon receiving the news about Deakin’s sentence, one of his victim-survivors said "Magandang balita po yan. Mabuti naman at wala na syang mabibiktima. Salamat sa Diyos." [This is good news. It’s good because he won’t be able to victimize anyone anymore. Thank God.]

Ms. Milissa Hilario, Social Worker from the City Social Welfare Development Office in Angeles also expressed her happiness towards the conviction.

IJM National Director, Atty. Samson Inocencio, Jr. recalled how this case was one of the more complex cases to prosecute. He said, “This conviction came out at an unprecedented time of pandemic when things seemed to have come to a stop as people are quarantine in their homes, but justice cannot be stopped. More than ever, our justice system should continue to work to protect vulnerable children who are unsafe during the lockdown, and that criminals are made to account for their crimes. We commend the Philippine Courts for their relentless work amidst a pandemic.”

OSEC is a crime that violates the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act or Republic Act (RA) 9208 as amended by RA 10364, which comes with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of P2 million to P5 million pesos. Typical OSEC offences also violate RA 10175 (Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012), RA 9775 (Anti‐Child Pornography Act of 2009) and RA 7610 (Child Abuse Law).

Photo: Lawrence Aritao

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