Popular Pedophile Hunting Grounds

Christopher Neil will face new charges in connection with a second Thai youth who has accused the Canadian pedophile suspect of abusing him several years ago, Thai police said Tuesday.

Neil, the subject of an international police manhunt after police decoded digitally disguised photos of apparent abuse posted on the Internet, was arrested in Pattaya, Thailand, last week.

The 32-year-old from Maple Ridge, B.C., is alleged to have abused young boys in Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand several years ago. However, until now he has been charged in only one case involving a Thai youngster who was nine years old at the time of the alleged abuse in 2003.

Thai police said that additional charges would be filed against Neil after a second boy testified that he sexually abused him four years ago.

The new charges are based on an account by the nine-year-old’s older brother who was 14 when he was allegedly molested, also in 2003. Neil has denied any wrongdoing.

The older boy, now 19, told police questioners that he was lured by another boy to Neil’s apartment in Bangkok in May 2003 to play computer games a few times. During his third visit, Neil molested him.

“Neil took off the child’s clothes and took photos of him naked. Neil asked the child to touch his sexual organ and he also touched the child’s sexual organ,” said Lt.-Col. Manat Thongsimuang, deputy chief of the police division for Suppression of Crime Against Children, Juveniles and Women.

Manat said the new charges expected to be filed Wednesday are taking away a child under 15 without parental consent with intent to molest, punishable by up to 20 years in prison; and sexual abuse of a child under 15, punishable by up to 10 years.

Photos of the siblings were among some 200 pictures found by Interpol on the Internet, which had the face of the perpetrator digitally obscured.

Computer experts with the German police manage to unscramble the photos so that the man’s face was recognizable. Interpol circulated the photos publicly and subsequent tips allowed them to identify Neil as a suspect.

Neil refused to speak to an Associated Press reporter who visited him Tuesday at Bangkok Remand Prison.

Canadian authorities have said they will seek his extradition, but have not yet done so, according to Thai officials. Canada has sex tourism laws allowing prosecution for crimes committed overseas.

Neil had taught at schools in Thailand, South Korea and Vietnam since 2000. Before then, Neil worked as a chaplain in Canada, counselling teenagers.

Pattaya is known for its nightlife, thriving sex industry and popularity among foreign fugitives and criminal gangs. Several countries in Southeast Asia, including Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, are popular with pedophiles because of poverty that drives children and their parents to accept money for sexual favours, and because of sometimes lax law enforcement and justice systems.

The Canadian Press
Published in: on October 24, 2007 at 3:45 am  Leave a Comment  

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