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Sex tourism is a major industry in some parts of the world. That doesn't mean that those who partake don't risk major penalties. Michael James Dodd, 61, learned that lesson after being sentenced to 104 months in federal prison. Dodd traveled abroad to have sex with a 14-year-old girl, according to the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times reports.
He admitted to having a sexual relationship with the minor for five months while teaching at a school in Cambodia. Dodd was paying the victim's family $200 a month as well as giving them food. Authorities are not certain that the family was aware of the arrangement, though the facts certainly suggest as much: "There shouldn't be any suggestion that he was renting the girl or the family was prostituting her out ... Although there is no question that this girl and her family lived in impoverished conditions that are really hard to imagine," Thom Mrozek, a spokesman with the U.S. attorney's office, told the Los Angeles Times.
Dodd eventually pleaded guilty to one count of traveling to Cambodia and engaging in illicit sexual conduct with a minor. It's an interesting case because most people are unaware that there are situations where they can be prosecuted in the US for actions that occurred outside the country. Dodd was initially convicted in Cambodian in 2008 for sexual abuse, but only had to serve 16 months of a 10 year sentence.
However, after his conviction, he was extradited to the U.S., and prosecuted under the Protect Act. Under the Protect Act, child sex tourism is illegal, even if the crimes were committed in other nations and child sex tourism is punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
The conviction is this case was not Dodd's first conviction for sex crimes. He has a rap sheet including a number of similar convictions in other countries. U.S. District Judge John Walter, called Dodd a "cunning, clever and manipulative predator," adding that "this is one of the most disgusting cases that has ever come before this court."
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