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US court sentences sex tourist

AN AMERICAN citizen found guilty of sexually exploiting children in Cambodia has been sentenced by a United States District Court to 15 years in prison and a lifetime of supervision, and ordered to pay a US$11,000 fine and $8,000 in restitution.

Craig Carr, 59, of Washington state, was sentenced in Seattle on Friday. He pleaded guilty in a July hearing.

“You prey on the most vulnerable of victims ... very young girls. What you were doing satisfying your fantasy one night leads to a lifetime of nightmares for them,” Judge Richard A Jones said in handing out Carr’s sentence.

“I’ve ruined my life for a very troubled part of who I am,” Carr said during sentencing. “I have no one to blame but myself.”

Carr will have to register as a “sex offender” under Washington state law.

Carr made arrangements with contacts in Cambodia he made over the internet to purchase sex with and take pornographic photographs of underage girls before travelling to Cambodia for a week in January, according to the facts of his plea agreement, the District Attorney’s office said.

Carr requested that the girls be about 12 years old and provided sexually explicit photographs to explain his preference. He paid $8,000 for the arrangement.

After a joint investigation involving Cambodian and French police, Carr was arrested on January 22, and later admitted to having sex with three 14-year-old girls from Phnom Penh and Kandal province during his eight-day stay in Cambodia. His camera contained pictures of the three girls.

Two of the girls were identified and involved in local proceedings at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, which sentenced Carr in absentia along with two accomplices in September.

Mey Sovan and Sek Vy, both 37, were sentenced to 12 years each in prison for soliciting child prostitution and procurement. Both were ordered to pay 8 million riels (US$1,965) in fines and 8 million riels compensation to two victims. One victim remains unknown.

“The third had dropped her complaint,” said Samleang Seila, country director of Action pour les Enfants, a child protection NGO.

Since 2003, Samleang Seila said, 12 US citizens have been extradited or deported to the US for prosecution of sex crimes under “Operation Twisted Traveler”, part of the 2003 PROTECT Act, which allows American citizens to be prosecuted in US courts for sex crimes abroad.

“We take a really tough position regarding sex tourism,” said US embassy spokesman Mark Wenig, who called Carr’s case a “warning” to potential American sex tourists.

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