Richard David Mitchell was arraigned yesterday on sex tourism charges in the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii, after being deported from Cambodia.
Mitchell, 61, a U.S. citizen and resident of Hawaii, was charged in a criminal complaint filed on Aug. 26, 2009, in U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii with engaging in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign place. According to the affidavit filed in support of the complaint, witnesses reported seeing Mitchell engaging in sex acts with a female child on the curbside of a street in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in August 2008. Mitchell was initially arrested in August 2008 by the Cambodian National Police on local charges related to the same incident.
Mitchell returned to Hawaii on Sept. 5, 2009, following his removal from Cambodia. Upon his arrival at Honolulu International Airport, he was taken into custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. At yesterday’s hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren ordered Mitchell held without bond pending a detention hearing.
Mitchell is the fourth American arrested by ICE in the past two weeks for sexually exploiting minors in Cambodia. On Aug. 31, 2009, three Americans were taken into custody by ICE at Los Angeles International Airport following their removal from Cambodia on sex tourism charges. The four cases are the result of unprecedented cooperation among U.S. authorities, the Cambodian government and non-governmental organizations to target American sex tourists in Cambodia.
Mitchell faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 if convicted of the charges.
Charges in a criminal complaint are merely accusations, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy Olson of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Hawaii and Trial Attorney Anitha Ibrahim of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section. The case was investigated by ICE.