A man from North Carolina, Jake Ross, was sentenced to 55 years in prison for paying a mother in the Philippines to sexually abuse her children over livestream.
The 47-year-old man from McDowell County received the longest sentence ever given in a child pornography case by the federal courts in the Asheville division of the Western District of North Carolina, reported the Charlotte Observer.
The Chief U.S. District Judge Martin Reidinger also added a lifetime of court supervision if Ross were to outlive his sentence. U.S. lawyer Dena King stated Ross’ punishment “reflects the depravity of his actions.”
Ross was arrested in July 2020 for his involvement as a dealer in “webcam sex tourism,” wherein “pornography from mostly from developing countries is live-streamed on social media platforms around the globe,” according to prosecutors.
According to the court documents reported on by the Observer, federal investigators found 28 pornographic screenshots from Ross’ WhatsApp video chats with the Filipino mother on his phone. Screen grabs of other livestreamed sex abuse of children were also uncovered from Ross’ Google accounts.
“These types of crimes that prey on our children sicken me,” King said.
According to the global anti-child exploitation network ECPAT International, an estimated 60,000 to 100,000 Filipino children, typically impoverished girls aged 14 to 17, are trafficked each year in the Philippines. The country was described as “the global epicentre of the live-stream sexual abuse trade” by UNICEF in 2016.
The Department of Justice Office of Cybercrime also reported a 264.63% increase in online sexual exploitation of children after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in the Philippines in 2020, according to The Philippine Star.