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Americans face sex tourism trial

Raja Abdulrahim Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES – Three American men who are suspected of traveling to Cambodia to molest children have been charged in federal court as part of an initiative aimed at cracking down on the child sex tourism business there, authorities said Monday.

Ronald Gerard Boyajian, 49, of Menlo Park; Erik Leonardus Peeters, 41, of Norwalk; and Jack Louis Sporich, 75, formerly of Santa Monica and currently living in Sedona, Ariz., were arrested by Cambodian police in February, authorities said. They were recently expelled from the country and arrived Monday at Los Angeles International Airport in the custody of U.S. immigration officials.

The three men, all previously convicted of sex offenses in the U.S., were charged here in absentia earlier this year with traveling overseas for the purpose of engaging in illicit sexual conduct with minors, a charge that could bring as many as 30 years per victim, authorities said.

They are the first to be charged under an international law enforcement operation dubbed “Twisted Traveler,” specifically targeting American sex offenders who travel to Cambodia, a country that one U.S. immigration official said was “the world’s ground zero for child sex tourists.”

“These types of cases are disturbing not only because young, defenseless children were victimized in unspeakable ways,” U.S. Attorney Thomas O’Brien said at a news conference Monday. “But also because the defendants went to such lengths to engage in their dark activities overseas.”

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