Many people are under the assumption that if a crime is committed in another country, they can't be prosecuted for it by the United States government. But that's simply not true. In fact, those found guilty of such an offense can face penalties in both the U.S. and the country where it was committed.
An example of this is the case of a 72-year-old Fond du Lac man who pleaded guilty this week to a sex crime committed in Belize. He was accused of molesting a girl in the Central American nation in July 2006. And for several years afterward, he may have believed he was safe from prosecution.
But in October 2010 he was charged in absentia in the Eastern District of Wisconsin and in February 2011 he was arrested by the Guatemalan National Civil Police Department. From there he was expelled to the United States and arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agents and the U.S. Marshals Service before being returned to Wisconsin to face charges.
The man pleaded guilty to charges of traveling in foreign commerce and attempting to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor. Although he hasn't been sentenced yet, he's expected to get 30 years in prison and be fined $250,000. Charges of aggravated assault of a minor are also pending in Belize.
The case was brought forward by the joint efforts of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative by the Department of Justice to combat childhood sexual exploitation and abuse, as well as Operation Predator, a similar initiative launched by ICE. Multiple other agencies and police departments also participated in the case, which demonstrates the forces devoted to preventing sex crimes against children.
Such crimes are seen as a growing epidemic and you'll face a tough legal battle if you're accused of sexual abuse or exploitation of a child. Don't take your chances by going it alone or choosing an attorney without proven experience in defense of sex charges.
Source: fdlreporter.com, "FdL man pleads guilty to sex assault of girl in Belize," May 10, 2012