Convictions Bring Justice for Abused Children

Fr. Shay Cullen

Hundreds of children are sexually abused daily in the Philippines and millions are abused around the world. Strict justice is needed and an unrelenting crackdown on child abusers is what is needed to protect children from sexual abuse.

More Filipino child abusers are being convicted than ever before. Judges are delivering justice. US nationals accused based on credible evidence of child sexual abuse in the Philippines or those who returned to the US are “persons of interest” or are even under surveillance by the dedicated investigators of the U.S. Homeland Security and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement unit at the US Embassy in Manila and their counterparts in the US.

They have successfully investigated many cases and gathered sound credible evidence against US nationals that will stand up in a US court of law. US citizen Arthur Benjamin finally pleaded guilty to crimes of child abuse and after more than four years in a harsh Philippine jail, he was deported to the US and placed on trial in California. This was done under US extraterritorial jurisdiction law. He died a few months ago. His interview about his sexual exploits with underage girls was captured on camera by ABC TV New York. You can watch The Raid at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xRCk8Ni-cs

The latest arrest is that of an American Catholic priest, Kenneth Hendricks. He was arrested December 5 in Naval, Biliran, Southeastern Philippines. Father Hendricks, 78, has been accused of abusing children during his 40 years in the Philippines. He is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt but is being extradited to the US to stand trial. US Homeland Security agents arrested Hendricks. A warrant for Hendricks’s arrest was issued November 11 by the U.S. District Court of Ohio. Hendricks faces federal charges for engaging in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign country, a US crime.

US Federal law provides “extraterritorial jurisdiction” over certain sex offenses against children by US nationals. Extraterritorial jurisdiction is the legal authority of the United States to prosecute criminal conduct that took place outside its borders. Section 2423(c) of Title 18, United States Code, and Sections1596, 3261, and 3271 provide for extraterritorial jurisdiction in sex trafficking and child exploitation offenses.

Preda Foundation has been successful in bringing Filipino nationals to trial in the Philippines for child abuse. In 2018, Preda pursued justice for several child victims. They sought refuge and help at the Preda Home for Girls. There, they were helped overcome the trauma, grew in self-confidence, were educated, protected and empowered to file charges. Many bravely and courageously testified after months of Emotional Release Therapy in the home for abused children. They succeeded in testifying and fighting for their rights and won 16 convictions. Of their abusers, 15 were sentenced to life in prison. One got four years for acts of lasciviousness. The Preda home is headed by Marlyn Capio-Richter, a registered social worker and paralegal officer of the Preda Foundation’s Victoria Home for Girls.

As early as 2006, Preda took a court case against a German national who abused children in the Philippines. The judge invited the victims and witnesses to Germany where the case was to be heard. They testified and won the case and the child sex abuser was convicted and jailed.

More recently here in the Philippines, five boys who are victims of a British pedophile Douglas Slade testified by video link to a High Court judge sitting in London and told how they were sexually abused by him. He defended himself from a Bristol jail where he is serving a 24-year sentence after being convicted for historical sex abuse committed against UK youths.

This December 2018, the five Filipino boys abused by Slade won their civil case demanding compensation and will hopefully receive a large payment. It’s the first time in history that Filipinos took and won such a case in the UK. It is significant that the British judicial system pursued justice equally for children abused in the UK and in a foreign country. These arrests, trials, convictions, and victories will encourage other victims to come forward and tell their stories and be believed. The pro bono lawyers from Hugh James Law Office in the UK, Allen Collins and Samuel Barker, did a magnificent job in preparing the case and senior solicitor Mr. Levinson presented the case in court. Now, they have the task of discovering where Slade has hidden his money.

Slade falsely claimed to the court that he had been set up by Fr. Shay Cullen and Preda. This is the ruling of HH Judge Mark Gargan:

“I reject the defendant’s suggestion of impropriety on the part of Fr. Cullen, Ms. Capio Richter or PREDA generally. In my judgment, PREDA created a receptive environment in which vulnerable victims might work through their problems and therefore be able to explain more fully the nature of the abuse that they had undergone.

I found Fr Cullen to be an impressive witness. I am wholly satisfied that he was honest and doing his best to assist the court with what he knew about the relevant events. Fr. Cullen was able to explain why he had a longstanding interest in the defendant’s conduct and I wholly reject any suggestion that Fr. Cullen was engaged in some form of a witch-hunt against the defendant or that he would be prepared to manufacture or manipulate evidence. In any event, it is significant that his involvement and that of Ms. Capio-Richter came about only after the complaints had been lodged with the police.”

So justice has been done and we hope there will be many more convictions and this will make the world a safer place for children.

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