Evil acts | Inquirer Opinion

Evil acts

/ 12:30 AM May 12, 2017

For many of us stunned by the Associated Press report on “webcam sex tourism” involving infants and children, David Timothy Deakin is the closest thing to the face of pure evil. “Why is everyone asking about children coming into my house?” Deakin asked on the day he was arrested. The answer lay in what the National Bureau of Investigation found in his two-bedroom townhouse in Mabalacat, Pampanga, which he had turned into a cybersex den: “children’s underwear, toddler shoes, cameras, bondage cuffs, meth pipes and stacks of hard drives.” Inside his computer “were videos and images of young boys and girls engaged in sex acts.”

The AP report noted: “Even as police burst in, Deakin was streaming illicit content through the anonymous Tor network.” All together, the raiders found 30 hard drives, a tablet with 4,000 contacts, and a computer with “another 13 networked into it, from servers he said were around the world.”

Confronted by investigators with a picture of several children he stands accused of abusing, he was described as responding in this way: “Shrugging, he said one of them was probably a few doors away with her cousin. Minutes later, two girls, 9 and 11 years old, were rescued by police.”

The lack of care, the sense of dissipation, sharpens our outrage, but even if Deakin had been well-mannered and well-groomed, the enormity of the crime he is charged with cannot be disguised. Children and infants are being sexually exploited; this abuse is not merely criminal but evil.


And it is a growing problem around the world. Unfortunately, the same set of conditions that attracts legitimate tourists and businessmen to the Philippines attracts the illegal ones, too, as the AP noted: In our country, English is widely spoken, internet connectivity is increasing, international cash transfer systems are available. Combine that with persistent poverty, and we can understand why the Philippines is one of the top destinations of webcam sex tourism in the world.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, started by the US Congress in 1984, maintains a hotline for tips about children at risk. According to the AP, “The proliferation of crimes, along with new mandatory reporting, led to 8.2 million reports” or tips coursed through the hotline last year—compared to 8.3 million in the preceding 17 years. In the US Federal Bureau of Investigation’s estimate, about 750,000 child predators are online at any one time. And because of the set of conditions cited here, most of the prey are young, very young, Filipinos.

“Deakin’s arrest on April 20 shows one of the darkest corners of the internet, where pedophiles in the United States, Europe and elsewhere pay facilitators in the Philippines to sexually abuse children, even babies, directing their moves through online livestreaming services,” the AP reported.

Law enforcement agencies in several countries are cooperating to stop both the online viewers and the providers. Raids are being conducted more frequently.


What can be done to help the work of the NBI, the FBI, and the police?

We can, in our own individual way, help create or spread greater awareness of the threat of technology-enabled pedophilia. We must be more conscious of any unseemly use of cellphones or cameras or computer networks. We must cooperate with the authorities should they require our help.


Not least, we must report any suspicious activity. A neighbor of Deakin’s was distraught after the raid confirmed her worst fears. “Oh, I pity those children,” she said. At the same time, she confessed to the AP that she wondered whether she could have done more to prevent more abuse, or to intervene.

That was truly the heartbreaking part. Other people had noted the unusual number and frequency of children visiting Deakin in his house. One housekeeper who complained about not receiving her wages also wondered “what he was doing with children in the bedroom with the door closed.”

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On red flags like these, we all need to sound the alarm.

TAGS: Child abuse

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