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Child Exploitation

Canadian pleads guilty to running a brothel for pedophiles in Thailand

NEWARK, N.J. - John Wrenshall, 63, pleaded guilty to inviting sex tourists to travel to his home in Thailand in order to abuse young boys.

Wrenshall pleaded guilty May 5 before U.S. District of New Jersey Judge Dennis M. Cavanaugh to three counts of the indictment against him: conspiracy to engage in sex tourism, conspiracy to produce child pornography, and distribution of child pornography.

According to documents filed in this and related cases and statements made in court: Wrenshall admitted that from at least as early as January 2000, he arranged trips to his home during which U.S. citizens and others paid him to engage in anal sex, oral sex and other sexual acts with Thai boys, some as young as four years old. Wrenshall's customers were allowed to videotape and photograph their abuse. Wrenshall also personally victimized the boys in order to "train" them for his paying customers.

Wrenshall, a Canadian citizen, was indicted by a federal grand jury in New Jersey in August 2008 after authorities learned that New Jersey resident Wayne Nelson Corliss had traveled to Wrenshall's home to engage in illegal sexual acts with minor boys. Wrenshall was arrested at London's Heathrow Airport in December 2008 by London's Metropolitan Police Service, with agents of the Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and was extradited to the United States in July 2009 to face the New Jersey indictment.

Corliss, formerly of Union City, N.J., was the first of Wrenshall's clients identified by law enforcement officers. In May 2008, INTERPOL released a sanitized photograph of a man sexually abusing young Thai boys to media outlets in the United States and abroad, and made a global appeal for information that could identify the offender depicted in the photo. Within 48 hours, and acting on information obtained from individuals who recognized the offender as Corliss, ICE, coordinating with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey and the Department of Justice's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, located and arrested Corliss in Union City, N.J.

The release of Corliss' photo represented only the second time that INTERPOL has made such a public appeal to identify a suspected child predator. INTERPOL and ICE are partners in the Virtual Global Task Force, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies committed to joint, international enforcement efforts designed to keep children safe from sexual predators around the world.

Three of Wrenshall's U.S. clients - Corliss, Burgess Lee Burgess, and Mitchell Kent Jackson - have already pleaded guilty and been sentenced on sex tourism and related charges. On Nov. 19, 2009, Corliss was sentenced in the District of New Jersey by U.S. District Judge Joseph A. Greenaway, Jr., to 20 years in prison. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey referred Burgess and Jackson to the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of Alabama for prosecution. Each were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Kristi Dubose to 78 months in prison.

At his sentencing, Wrenshall faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison for conspiracy to engage in sex tourism (Count One); a minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum of 20 years in prison for conspiracy to produce child pornography (Count Four); and a maximum of 15 years in prison for distribution of child pornography (Count 15). Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 16, 2010.