Friday, May 28, 2010

Smugglers Use Haitian Orphans as Sex Slaves in Dominican Republic

By Stephen Thorne

Former catholic priest, John Duarte, arrested last October in the Dominican Republic for sexually abusing Haitian boys

OTTAWA -- Smugglers have been spiriting Haitian quake orphans out of the country to become sex slaves in the Dominican Republic, authorities say.

A Mountie, a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, just back from Haiti says authorities have uncovered so-called "safe houses," where predators hide children before whisking them over the border. The perpetrators pose as aid workers or even work for legitimate charities, specifically to gain access to children, RCMP Sgt. Lana Prosper told The Canadian Press.

Investigators suspect some of those preying on desperate children in Haiti also peddled child-sex videos found online from Sri Lanka, Thailand and other countries after the 2004 tsunami.

It's just a matter of time before videos of young Haitian quake victims surface, said Prosper, just home from a month in Haiti with a team from the Canadian Police Centre for Missing and Exploited Children.

"Since we've been there and since we've been back, there have been groups of children found at the border in so-called safe houses," she said.

"People put children into these homes and then wait till darkness to get them across the border. It's happening."

Prosper's team worked in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, helping the national police force protect children after the Jan. 12 earthquake, which killed 230,000 people and left a million homeless. Several Canadians have recently been convicted of sex crimes involving Haitian children:

-- John Duarte, a former priest from Windsor, Ont., who worked with a legitimate charity, was sentenced to 18 months in April after pleading guilty to sexual interference involving three Haitian teenagers. He was arrested last October in the Dominican Republic after an investigation by Ontario Provincial Police and the RCMP.

-- Two Quebec aid workers pleaded guilty in November 2008 to multiple counts of sexually abusing teenage boys while working at a Haitian orphanage. Armand Huard, 65, is serving three years and Denis Rochefort, 59, got two. Complaints by a dozen Haitian boys led nowhere until local police officers complained to Canadian cops on a Haitian mission.

-- The Canadian Press

Source: WinnipegFreePress

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