An American man was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of human trafficking in the Philippines.
David Timothy Deakin, 55, was found guilty of three counts of “large-scale qualified trafficking in persons” on Thursday, according to the Philippine News Agency.
The Peoria, Illinois native was arrested in a house he had rented in Angeles City, province of Pampanga in April 2017.
Officers from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) rescued two girls (aged 9 and 11) from the premises, which contained cameras, sex toys, and drug paraphernalia, as well as children’s underwear and toddler shoes.
Information from the FBI revealed that Deakin had been sexually abusing Filipino children and selling recordings of his exploits to foreign customers on the internet.
Aside from spending the rest of his life behind bars, Deakin must pay 2 million pesos (about $40,000) in fines, 500,000 pesos (about $10,000) in moral damages (per victim), and 100,000 pesos (about $2,000) in exemplary damages.
This marks the first time a foreign national was convicted of trafficking through online proceedings amid the COVID-19 crisis in the country. Eight of Deakin’s victims are now “on the road to recovery and restoration” according to the International Justice Mission (IJM), which oversaw his case.
Just last week, the IJM published a study showing that the Philippines has increasingly become a hot spot for online child sexual exploitation. In exchange for money, parents themselves agree to have their children victimized, according to the Associated Press.
Deakin is already in jail after being convicted of possessing child sexual exploitation materials (CSEM) in December. However, he was not found guilty of cybersex operations at the time, according to the Inquirer.
“To behold this e-conviction of a high-profile criminal in the middle of a pandemic is so inspiring,” prosecutor Kathleen Piccio Labay commented on his recent conviction, according to Rappler.
“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.”
Feature Image Screenshots via the Associated Press