Isle man charged in child sex overseas


POSTED: Thursday, September 10, 2009

U.S. Attorney Ed Kubo said charges against a 61-year-old Big Island man are part of a stepped-up effort by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Justice to prosecute American tourists who travel to Cambodia to sexually exploit children.

Richard David Mitchell of Waimea, who allegedly engaged in sex acts with a 12-year-old girl in August 2008 at a curbside in Cambodia, was charged in Hawaii and made his initial appearance in federal court Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

ICE arrested three other Americans on Aug. 31 at Los Angeles Airport for allegedly sexually exploiting minors in Cambodia.

Mitchell was charged under a federal law that prohibits U.S. citizens and permanent resident aliens from traveling in foreign countries and engaging with a person under age 16 in sexual acts that would have been prohibited under U.S. law or with a person under age 18 if those acts were commercial.

Kubo said federal law also prohibits foreign travel for the purpose of engaging in such acts.

“;Anyone who travels to another country to sexually abuse a child should expect aggressive prosecution in the United States and a long prison sentence,”; he said.

Cambodian police arrested Mitchell in August 2008 on local charges related to the same illicit sexual acts. He was in Cambodian custody until he was brought to Hawaii on Saturday and taken into custody by ICE agents.

A federal magistrate judge ordered Mitchell to be held without bond pending a detention hearing. If convicted, Mitchell faces up to 30 years in prison.