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May 24, 2022Washington, DC, United StatesChild Exploitation

HSI investigation and law enforcement partnerships lead to Florida man’s life sentence for child sex tourism

WASHINGTON - The United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida sentenced Christopher Edwin Day, 52, to life in prison on May 16. Day previously pled guilty to two counts of travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct and two counts of attempted coercion and enticement of a minor into illegal sexual activity. This case began in the summer of 2016 when Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Vietnam received a lead from a local nongovernmental organization in Hanoi reporting the potential molestation of a minor.

HSI special agents in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and Tampa investigated Day, of Saint Petersburg, Florida, who engaged in sex acts with Vietnamese minors he met over the internet. According to documents filed with the court and statements made in connection with Day’s plea and sentencing, on two separate occasions in 2015 and 2016, Day traveled from Florida to Vietnam to engage in sex acts with minor Vietnamese boys. Day flew back and forth to Vietnam under the guise that he was an English teacher; some boys were lured by Day with promises of money and gifts while others were introduced to Day as their English teacher.

“The laws of the United States will still catch up to child predators who travel to foreign countries to sexually abuse minor children,” said HSI Tampa Assistant Special Agent in Charge John Dumas. “Thanks to HSI’s international investigative authorities and strong partnerships, both at HSI Tampa and HSI Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, this sexual predator was stopped from harming more children and his victims will have the justice they deserve.”

HSI worked with the U.S. State Department’s Regional Security Office in Hanoi and Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security to identify and interview more than 10 victims and their parents. In August 2019, Day was arrested by HSI special agents and ultimately pled guilty to the charges in February 2020. During sentencing, one victim shared the immense impact of Day’s abuse, indicating he had since dropped out of school, suffers from insomnia, and has difficulty socializing and maintaining employment.

“The testimony of this brave young man highlights the profound and lasting negative effects that crimes of sexual exploitation have on surviving victims,” said HSI Vietnam Country Attaché Michael Allan. “I only hope knowing that his abuser can no longer harm another child, will provide some measure of comfort and help him begin a path toward healing. We will continue to use our broad investigative authority to work with international partners and ensure criminals who seek to prey upon vulnerable children, no matter where they are, are brought to justice.”

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. for the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Roger B. Handberg for the Middle District of Florida, and Assistant Special Agent in Charge John Dumas of HSI Tampa made the announcement. Trial Attorney Kyle P. Reynolds of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Candace Garcia Rich for the Middle District of Florida prosecuted the case.

HSI is a directorate of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 7,100 special agents assigned to 220 cities throughout the United States, and 80 overseas locations in 53 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative combating the epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the CEOS, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. Anyone with information on suspected child sexual exploitation can contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children by calling 800-843-5678 or online.