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86-Year-Old Man On Trial for Trying to Have Sex with Young Philippine Girls

Nov. 17, 2004 An 86-year-old man from Garden Grove, California, is the latest person charged under a 2003 federal law known as the Protect Act, aimed at curbing international sex trade. Prosecutors say he planned to go to the Philippines for sex with two young girls.

John Seljan, slumped in his wheelchair, wore a large black set of headphones over his thin, gray hair to help him hear what was being said about his aborted trip last year, according to a report by John McDonald in the Orange County Register.

His lawyer, Alan Stokke contends that on earlier trips Seljan only touched young girls and that without evidence of intercourse or penetration, no crime was committed under the federal law.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigators opened the case during an investigation of currency being illegally shipped to terrorist groups in the Philippines. A Federal Express package sent by Seljan to a family in Batangas was opened. One letter in the package was addressed to an 8-year-old girl.

"Yes Honey, I like little girls like you," said the letter, purportedly written by Seljan.

Seljan disputes the statements and letters attributed to him.

When arrested at the airport, his luggage contained 127 photographs of Seljan with young Filipina girls, including 52 depicting the defendant and pre-teen girls engaging in sex acts, the prosecution contends. They claim he also had child pornography, sex toys, an estimated $8,000 in cash and 100 pounds of chocolate.

He said he had been educating girls in the Philippines for 20 years and there arfe no laws there against his conduct.

The charges against Seljan include attempted travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct, and two counts each of possessing and producing child pornography. He faces up to 200 years if convicted.

He is one of about a dozen men from around the nation charged under the Protect Act, that included provisions increasing the penalties for those convicted of engaging in sex with minors overseas. The law also eased the burden of proof for prosecutors and increased the maximum penalty from 10 years to 30 years as part of a broader U.S. campaign against international sex trafficking.

The only person sentenced so far under the new law is Michael Lewis Clark, 70, who was arrested in Cambodia for engaging in sex with two boys, 10 and 13. He pleaded guilty in Seattle and was sentenced to eight years in federal prison. Two other men have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

Read the story in the Orange County Register

Read the AP report

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