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Child Exploitation
09/27/2013

HSI arrests Puerto Rican psychiatrist on child exploitation, sex trafficking charges

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A psychiatrist was arrested Thursday for transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and sex trafficking of a minor. The arrest was made by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents, working jointly with Puerto Rico Crimes Against Children Task Force officers.

HSI special agents arrested Gerardo V. Navarro-Rodriguez at his medical office in Caguas after an investigation revealed he allegedly induced, coerced and enticed at least one 17-year-old male minor to engage in commercial sexual acts. The investigation was spurred by a referral from the Puerto Rico Police Department.

According to the criminal complaint, Navarro-Rodriguez was a psychiatrist working for APS Healthcare Puerto Rico. APS is a private corporation contracted by the Puerto Rican government and is the sole provider of mental health services under The Puerto Rico Health Reform, "Mi Salud."

In his position as a psychiatrist for APS, Dr. Navarro-Rodriguez provided, among other things, psychiatric therapy sessions to children and adolescent victims of sexual abuse. From approximately October 2011 through May, a male minor identified as John Doe was a patient of Dr. Navarro-Rodriguez. The criminal complaint alleges during this period the doctor committed lewd acts and sexual assault against the victim on several occasions.

"Predators who victimize innocent children for selfish gratification must know that we will not rest until they are brought to justice, regardless of where they live and who they are," said Angel M. Melendez, special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. "Words cannot describe the harm that these crimes inflict on children."

"We request all parents to talk to their children and report any illegal sexual conduct. Furthermore, if you are a current or former patient of Dr. Navarro-Rodriguez, or if you simply have information you'd like to share with law enforcement, please do not hesitate to call," said U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Velez. "This office is committed to investigating and prosecuting individuals who feel they can take advantage of their positions of trust and abuse our children."

If convicted, Navarro-Rodriguez faces between 10 years and life in prison.

This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI 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. HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423 or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.

Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-843-5678.

HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse..