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Child Exploitation

Wisconsin man pleads guilty to sexual exploitation of a minor in Belize

MILWAUKEE, Wis. — A Wisconsin man pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court in Milwaukee to traveling in foreign commerce and engaging in and attempting to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department's Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney James L. Santelle of the Eastern District of Wisconsin; John Morton, Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); and Scott Bultrowicz, Director of the U.S. State Department's Diplomatic Security Service (DSS).

Roland J. Flath, 72, pleaded guilty May 9 before U.S. District Judge J.P. Stadtmueller in the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

According to court documents, Flath, of Fond du Lac, Wis., traveled to Belize in July 2006, and subsequently sexually molested a minor girl from Belize. Flath was originally charged by a criminal complaint filed in the Eastern District of Wisconsin in October 2010. He was arrested by the Guatemalan National Civil Police Feb. 20, 2011, expelled to the United States, and arrested in the United States by ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents and the U.S. Marshal Service. Flath was indicted March 22, 2011, by a grand jury sitting in the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

Flath faces a maximum penalty of up to 30 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

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-DHS-2ICE 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 and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Penelope Coblentz, Eastern District of Wisconsin, and Trial Attorney Mi Yung Park of CEOS. Assistance was provided by the Office of International Affairs in the Justice Department's Criminal Division. This case is a result of investigative efforts led by HSI Milwaukee and the DSS's Regional Security Office in Belize, CEOS's High Technology Investigative Unit, and the Belize Police Department.