A Cebu court has sentenced a woman to 17 years and 6 months in prison after pleading guilty to attempted trafficking, possession of child sexual exploitation materials (CSEM), and child abuse.
Jade*, whose name has been withheld to protect her victim’s identity, entered into a plea agreement before Judge Christine Muga-Abad of the Regional Trial Court Branch 70 in Lapu-Lapu City, the International Justice Mission (IJM) said in a press statement on Thursday, July 30.
Jade entered guilty pleas to offenses under Republic Act No. 9208 as amended by RA 10364 (Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act), RA 7610 or the Anti-Child Abuse Law, and RA 9775 of the Anti-Child Pornography Act in relation to RA 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act.
Her original charges were also violations of the same laws, the IJM said.
In a decision rendered through video conferencing on Wednesday, July 29, Muga-Abad also ordered Jade to pay P600,000 in fines, P500,000 in moral damages, and P100,000 in exemplary damages.
The case was referred by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to the Philippine Internet Crimes Against Children Center (PICACC) in March 2019.
At the time, the FBI was investigating Alan Dennis Wolff, a US-based child sex offender, who was Jade’s client. Jade abused her female cousin from 2016, when she was 11, until 2018, so she could send CSEM materials to Wolff.
The Philippine National Police Women and Children Protection Center – Visayas Field Unit (WCPC-VFU) arrested Jade on April 6, 2020.
The police also took in Jade’s 3 children, all under the age of 7, as they were considered “children at risk,” said IJM. They were brought to the custody of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Central Visayas.
Her cousin was rescued earlier, in July 2019.
Meanwhile, Wolff pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual exploitation of children before a court in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in December 2019, IJM said.
IJM also explained that 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,” IJM said.
IJM Cebu Field Office Director Lucille Dejito said the jail sentence of Jade “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.”
“May this conviction remind criminals engaging in this crime that the risk of getting caught and spending several years in prison is real and that it’s not worth taking,” Dejito added.
IJM has supported Philippine law enforcement agencies in operations that led to the arrest of 256 OSEC perpetrators and the rescue of 669 victims and children-at-risk across the country. – Rappler.com