Red light districts in the Philippines are among places frequented by foreign nationals engaged in "sex tourism." (Photo by Vincent Go)
It was a normal day in the life of 13-year old Jeremiah as he left the schoolyard in Angeles City. He saw his classmates running to get candies and chocolates being handed out by an overweight, cheerful balding Caucasian man.
He was sitting outside his house, which was close to the schoolyard, and was throwing around candies as if feeding chickens, and the children flocked to get them. He invited some of the boys to come into his house and upstairs, where he invited them, to have more candies and watch television. He quickly made friends with them.
In the following days, he did the same again until the boys were groomed and comfortable in his house. Then he showed them videos of men and boys having sex. Jeremiah was embarrassed but Douglas Slade put him on his lap and the abuse happened. It was just one of several incidents of sexual abuse, and Jeremiah became different, morose, and depressed and was psychologically damaged.
Jeremiah told his parents who immediately filed charges against Douglas Slade. The others boys came forward to say Slade had done similar acts of abuse to them. They too filed charges.
Over several years, none of the court cases against the wealthy Slade prospered. There were rumors of corruption and bribery at all levels in the prosecution and the judiciary, and inexplicably, despite the direct testimony of the victims and other witness, the lady judge dismissed the cases.
In an interview with an investigative television show, Slade admitted that his lawyer was able to make payments to have the cases dismissed.
There is a thriving dark business in courtrooms to allow foreign child sex abusers or wealthy Filipinos go free for a price to abuse more children. That’s what Slade did: he felt protected, and abused children again. What is also shocking is the level of corruption and absence of moral values among duty bearers who are being paid to protect children and bring their abusers to justice.
To be abused by people you trust is a terrible lifelong experience and the vast majority of sexual abuse of children happens in the family — parents and relatives and neighbors. Thousands of children are sexually abused everywhere every day, about one in three girls have been abused and one in every six boys. That is a terrible statistic and a condemnation of human society. Only a fraction of the victims can reveal the abuse has happened.
Slade had been accused of child sexual abuse in the United Kingdom years before. He traveled to the Philippines where he set up a business and a house where he abused children. He got away with it due to corrupt officials. As a serious suspect in child sexual abuse case in the U.K., he should have been banned from leaving the country. But no court order was handed down to stop him from fleeing.
Eventually after years of lobbying and good police work in the U.K., Slade was extradited from the Philippines back to his home country and was put on trial for historical child abuse he had committed there. He was sentenced to 24 years in jail. The many boys he abused in the Philippines received no justice and no recompense.
With a pro-bono lawyer, we are suing Slade in the U.K. for compensation for the injuries the Filipino children have suffered. That case is ongoing in London.
Pedophiles like Slade and many thousands of others from Australia who are convicted of child abuse will be banned from traveling abroad as soon as a new law is activated. Now, the United States is considering new legislation to ban citizens from traveling to North Korea. Also, many nations have passed laws that ban suspected jihadists from traveling to Syria.
They are only suspected, not convicted of any crime. So it is right and good to have a law to ban convicted pedophiles and sex offenders from traveling beyond the reach of police monitoring and surveillance in their own countries.
Prevention is so much better than a cure. There was a time in the Philippines when a child had to be abused first before any crime was committed and action taken. So if a child sex abuser took a child to a hotel room, the police would not go to rescue the child because there was no evidence of abuse. They would need an arrest warrant.
Then we lobbied for many years and had the child protection law, known as Republic Act 7610, passed. Under Section 6 of the law, it is a blatant crime for a non-relative of a child to be alone with him or her in a secluded area. That gives the police and social workers the right to move in to the hotel room or any secluded place and rescue the child and make an arrest.
Lobbying and campaigning in your community and political leaders for a cancellation of passports of pedophiles is just one great campaign that will save thousands of children from abuse in the days and years to come. Let’s get to work and do it
Irish Father Shay Cullen, SSC, established the Preda Foundation in Olongapo City in 1974 to promote human rights and the rights of children, especially victims of sex abuse.