- Michael Joseph Pepe, a 68-year-old retired U.S. Marine Captain, was sentenced to 210 years in federal prison for drugging, beating and raping Cambodian children.
- He was reportedly working as a part-time professor when he hired a prostitute to procure Cambodian children between the ages of 9 and 12 from their families from 2005 to 2006.
- The Cambodian National Police discovered sedatives, restraints and child pornography images during a raid of Pepe’s Cambodian residence in 2006.
- Pepe’s case was retried in August 2021 when he was charged with two counts of traveling to a foreign country with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct and two counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child. He was sentenced on Monday.
A 68-year-old retired U.S. Marine Captain was sentenced on Monday to 210 years in federal prison for beating and raping Cambodian children.
Michael Joseph Pepe was convicted for a second time and sentenced on Monday for two counts of traveling to a foreign country with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct and two counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child in Los Angeles federal court, reported the Los Angeles Times.
Pepe was reportedly working as a part-time professor in Phnom Penh when he hired a prostitute to procure children aged 9 to 12-years-old from their families between 2005 and 2006. He reportedly drugged, beat and sexually abused the children, leading to his arrest in 2006 when he was brought back to the U.S. to be charged in 2007.
The investigation began when one of his victims came forward. The Cambodian National Police discovered sedatives, restraints and child pornography images during a raid of Pepe’s home in 2006, according to the South China Morning Post.
While he was convicted in 2008 of seven felony counts, his sentencing was postponed until 2014 when the prosecutors found that lead investigator Gary J. Phillips was in a relationship with Vietnamese interpreter Ann Luong Spiratos, who translated some of the victims’ testimonies, according to the New York Post.
In 2018, Pepe’s 2008 conviction was reversed after a divided appellate court determined prosecutors had not demonstrated that he was “traveling” when he sexually abused the young girls, as Pepe claimed to have been living in the country for years leading up to the events. His case was retried once again in August 2021 with eight of his victims testifying for the second time.
“What he did to those preteen girls was torture,” U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer said. “[There is] no justification for a sentence that would ever allow [Pepe] to be released from prison.”
The ex-marine is scheduled for a restitution hearing on Feb. 28.
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