WARNING: The following story may be disturbing to some readers.
MANILA, PHILIPPINES – 26 May 2020 will be a date that will long be remembered as David Timothy Deakin will go down as the first foreigner to be convicted for trafficking offences through online proceedings in the Philippines.
Deakin was declared guilty of large-scale qualified trafficking in persons and was sentenced to suffer the penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of 2 million pesos (about A$59 600). He was also ordered to pay each victim the amount of 500 000 pesos (about A$14 900) representing moral damages and an additional 100 000 pesos (about A$3 000) as exemplary damages as civil indemnity for his crimes.
Judge Irineo P. Pangilinan, Jr. rendered the decision through video conferencing from Branch 58 of the Regional Trial Court in Angeles City, Pampanga.
This high-profile case blazed national headlines two years ago as the actual arrest was reported on by local and international media outfits, putting the crime of cybersex trafficking in the global spotlight. Despite being a tech savvy offender, Deakin was still caught through global cooperation efforts with foreign law enforcement.
On 20 April 2017, operatives of the National Bureau of Investigation Anti-Human Trafficking Division (NBI-AHTRAD) arrested American citizen Deakin, in his rented house in Angeles City, Pampanga where he was found in possession of hard drives containing child sexual exploitation materials (CSEM), sex toys and drug-use paraphernalia. A referral from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation revealed that Deakin was sexually abusing Filipino children, recording the abuse and selling it to foreign customers online.
International Justice Mission (IJM) supported that rescue operation and its lawyers in collaboration with the Angeles City Prosecutor’s Office have been supporting the litigations against Deakin until this conviction.
“The journey we had to take to ensure David Timothy Deakin’s accountability was fraught with so many legal challenges and in the process of securing justice for the victim-survivors, caseworkers from the law enforcement, social services and prosecution teams have been exposed to hundreds of traumatic child sexual exploitation materials but in the end, righteousness prevailed,” said Atty. Kathleen Piccio-Labay, Senior Lead Lawyer for Prosecution Development from IJM’s Manila Field Office. “International cooperation is truly indispensable in fighting a hidden crime that transcends national borders.”
IJM social workers have taken care of eight of Deakin’s victims – all of whom have been on the road to recovery and restoration. Upon receiving the news about Deakin’s sentence, one of his victim-survivors said, “This is good news. It’s good because he won’t be able to victimise anyone anymore. Thank God.”
IJM National Director, Atty. Samson Inocencio, Jr. said, “This conviction came out at an unprecedented time of pandemic when things seemed to have come to a stop as people are quarantine in their homes, but justice cannot be stopped. We commend the Philippine Courts for their relentless work amidst a pandemic.”
Note on terminology:
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. Sexualised material that depicts or otherwise represents children is a representation, and a form, of child sexual abuse and should not be described as “pornography.”
See Deakin’s arrest as covered in 2018 by the Associated Press (video and article).
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Images available upon request – please credit Lawrence Aritao, IJM Philippines.
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