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Brave survivor’s testimony leads to French sex offender’s conviction

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – A 14-year-old Filipino survivor of livestreamed child sexual exploitation testified against a French sex offender, leading to his conviction on 5 May 2022. The French national travelled to the Philippines to sexually abuse her in person and livestreamed her abuse on the dark web. 

Two days before a French court sentenced the offender to 15 years in prison, Jennifer* gave her testimony through a video conference from the French Embassy in Makati City. 

IJM worked with the Women and Children’s Protection Centre, French authorities and the Department of Justice to make this significant conviction happen. Chief of the WCPC – Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division, Police Col. Maria Sheila Portento said

“The conviction of a French offender, who abused a Filipino minor both online and in-person, is a perfect example of how global coordination can bring victims of exploitation to safety and their perpetrators to justice.”

IJM Manila’s Head of Prosecution Development, Atty. Kathleen Piccio-Labay, who served as Jennifer’s legal counsel said

“*Jennifer made a strong impression on the French prosecutors, judge, ambassador, and staff at the embassy. They were all moved deeply by her story. The online sexual exploitation of children transcends national boundaries. Therefore, combatting this crime type requires cross-border cooperation. This conviction shows that when law enforcement and judiciary between countries work together, justice is unstoppable.”

A French news report described the offender to be a 51-year-old restaurateur who sexually abused a young girl in the Philippines between 2015 and 2017, and then shared the videos on the internet.

On 27 July 2018, the Mandaluyong Regional Trial Court in the Philippines also convicted the Filipino trafficker, Jennifer’s own uncle, who facilitated the abuse and exploitation by the French national. He made first contact with the offender on the dark web, and from there, arranged for the in-person abuse of Jennifer.

The local perpetrator was sentenced to life imprisonment for Qualified Trafficking. It was the fastest conviction in a full trial for a case of online sexual exploitation of children, with the conviction achieved only four months after the suspect’s arraignment. Faster justice processes reduce trauma for survivors and ensure communities are made safer more quickly.

Learn more about IJM’s global work to end online sexual exploitation here.

Note to Editors:

  • *pseudonym
  • The name of the Filipino trafficker is withheld to protect the identities of victims related to them.
  • The Terminology Guidelines for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, also known as the Luxembourg Guidelines, prescribes the use of the term “child sexual abuse material” or “child sexual exploitation material” instead of “child pornography”, except when referencing the name of statute. Sexualized material that depicts or otherwise represents children is a representation, and a form, of child sexual abuse and should not be described as “pornography.”

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