CHICAGO - A jury in federal court convicted a former Miami-area man on Thursday of traveling overseas to engage in illicit sexual conduct with minor boys. The conviction resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Charles Todd Stokes, 48, is a former physical education teacher with the Miami-Dade County schools. After a four-day trial, he was found guilty of traveling in 2002 from Chicago to Thailand, where he lived for several years, to have sex with minors. Evidence at the trial showed that Stokes engaged in sexual conduct with about 70 boys under the age of 15 and, of those, about 30 were under 13 at the time. Two victims, who were 11 at the time and are now 18, traveled from Thailand to Chicago to testify at the trial.
Stokes formerly lived in the Miami area and taught in public schools there from the mid-1980s until the late 1990s. He faces up to 30 years in prison when he is sentenced on Aug. 26. The case was prosecuted in the Northern District of Illinois because Stokes traveled to Thailand from Chicago. The jury found that Stokes traveled with the "significant purpose" of engaging in sex with minors.
Stokes testified at trial that he was returning to his life in Thailand where he began living in 2000. He traveled to Chicago in late 2001 and renewed his visa before returning to Thailand from Chicago in early 2002. Stokes was arrested in Thailand in 2006. He was extradited to Chicago in 2007 and has remained in federal custody since then. Additional evidence showed that Stokes possessed thousands of photographs of himself engaging in sexual conduct with minor boys.
"Working closely with our overseas partners, ICE will continue to identify individuals who travel for illicit purposes, and we will pursue justice for abused children regardless of where they live," said Gary Hartwig, ICE special agent-in-charge in Chicago. ICE partnered with the Royal Thai Police in conducting the investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nancy DePodesta and William Ridgway, Northern District of Illinois, are prosecuting the case.
This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders, and child sex traffickers. Since Operation Predator was launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 12,800 individuals.
ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. This hotline is staffed around the clock by investigators.
Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.