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Child Exploitation

Hawaii man sentenced for illicit sexual conduct with Cambodian minor

HONOLULU - A Hawaii man who pleaded guilty to engaging in illicit sexual conduct with a minor after traveling to Cambodia was sentenced Monday to 46 months in federal prison and a lifetime of supervised release, the result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Richard David Mitchell, 61, of Kamuela, pleaded guilty in Nov. 2009 to traveling to a foreign country to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor. According to the case affidavit filed by ICE, witnesses reported seeing Mitchell engaging in sex acts with a 12-year-old girl in Aug. 2008 at a curbside in Cambodia.

Mitchell was initially arrested by the Cambodian National Police on local charges related to the incident. He was detained by Cambodian authorities until his removal to Hawaii in Aug. 2009. Upon arriving at Honolulu International Airport, he was taken into custody by ICE agents.

Federal law prohibits U.S. citizens and permanent resident aliens from traveling to foreign countries and engaging in sexual acts with individuals under 16, if those acts would have been prohibited under U.S. law, or with individuals under 18, if the acts were commercial. The PROTECT Act, which went into effect seven years ago, substantially strengthened the federal laws related to predatory crimes involving children outside the United States by adding new crimes and increasing sentences.

The charges against Mitchell are the result of stepped up efforts by ICE and the Department of Justice to identify and prosecute "sex tourists" who travel to Cambodia to engage in sex acts with children and unprecedented cooperation among U.S. authorities, the Cambodian government and non-governmental organizations to target American child sex tourists in Cambodia.

"This sentence sends a strong message to pedophiles who might be tempted to commit sex crimes overseas that there will be high price to pay for their actions," said Wayne Wills, special agent in charge for the ICE office of investigations in Hawaii. "We owe it to the children who are the victims in these cases, many of whom will bear the emotional scars of this trauma for the rest of their lives."

As part of his sentence, Mitchell was also ordered by U.S. District Court Judge David Alan Ezra to pay more than $6,000 in restitution to a Cambodian non-governmental organization that is providing care to the child victim he violated in 2008.