25-year-old woman in Cebu gets 17 years for child sexual abuse
CEBU CITY – A 25-year-old woman was sentenced to a total of 17 years and six months in prison for sexually exploiting her underage female cousin and livestreaming the abuse for a paying online child sex offender.
Jade (not her real name) pleaded guilty to attempted trafficking, possession of child sexual exploitation materials (CSEM), and child abuse before Judge Christine Muga-Abad of the Regional Trial Court Branch 70 in Lapu-Lapu City.
In a decision rendered through video conferencing, Abad also ordered Jade to pay P600,000 in fine, P500,000 in moral damages, and P100,000 in exemplary damages.
Jade was arrested by members of the Philippine National Police Women and Children Protection Center – Visayas Field Unit (WCPC-VFU) on April 6 while the lockdown was in effect to contain the spread of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Lapu-Lapu City.
Considered “children at risk,” her three children, all under seven years old, were brought to the custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
Under plea agreements, the accused pleads guilty not to the original charges but to other similar offenses usually before a court trial starts.
This protects child victims from the possibility of having to testify against perpetrators who are often family members or neighbors – a process that may cause re-traumatization, said the International Justice Mission (IJM), a non-government human rights group that combats slavery, sexual assaults on children and cybersex trafficking, in a press statement.
Lawyer Lucille Dejito, IJM Cebu Field Office director, said seeking justice for victims of online sexual exploitation of children does not stop even with the ongoing pandemic.
“The arrest of the trafficker and her eventual conviction happened despite the constraints posed by community quarantines. This is a testament to the tenacity of our partners in the Philippine criminal justice system in our shared goal of putting an end to this disturbing crime threatening our children.
Dejito hoped that Jade’s conviction would remind those who sexually abuse children that the risk of getting caught and spending several years in prison is real and not worth taking.
Based on their investigation, Jade abused her female cousin from 2016 to 2018 when the latter was aged 11 to 13.
The minor was rescued on July 31, 2019, following a case referral from the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to the Philippine Internet Crimes Against Children Center.
The FBI was then investigating Alan Dennis Wolff, a U.S. based child sex offender, who paid and directed Jade to abuse her underage cousin in order to produce new child sexual exploitation materials online.
In exchange for payments from Wolff, Jade livestreamed the sexual abuse of her cousin to him.
Following the rescue of the victim, WCPC-VFU filed complaints against Jade for violations under Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, Anti-Child Abuse Law and Anti-Child Pornography Act in relation to Cybercrime Prevention Act.
On February 26, 2020, Judge Abad issued an arrest warrant against Jade who was arrested five weeks later.
Wolff, meanwhile, pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual exploitation of children before a court in Minneapolis, Minnesota in December 2019.
So far, in IJM-supported cases, 90 persons have been convicted in the Philippines for online sexual exploitation of children since 2011. IJM has supported Philippine law enforcement agencies in operations that led to the arrest of 256 persons and the rescue of 669 victims and children-at-risk across the country.
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