Expatriate American Sex Offender Sentenced to Thirty Years in Prison in Foreign Sexual Abuse and Child Pornography Case
PORTLAND, Ore. – A previously-convicted sex offender who moved to Ecuador, sexually abused young boys there, and produced and distributed images of the abuse was sentenced in federal court this morning to 30 years in prison followed by a life term of supervised release. U.S. District Judge Michael H. Simon imposed the sentence on Kenneth Robert McVicker III, 50, following McVicker’s plea of guilty to traveling in foreign commerce and engaging in illicit sexual conduct with minors. While on supervised release, McVicker will be subject to stringent conditions of supervision, including prohibitions on associating with minors and frequenting places where children congregate, and restrictions on his use of computers. McVicker will also be required to participate in sex offender treatment, and must register as a sex offender.
McVicker was convicted of a number of child molestation offenses in Maryland in the 1980s, for which he spent close to 15 years in prison. After his release, and after completing a term of post-prison supervision, McVicker moved to a small coastal village in Ecuador, where he taught English and worked as an artist and soccer coach. While in Ecuador, he sexually abused at least eight young boys between the ages of five and twelve, took photographs and made videos of the abuse, and distributed the images to child pornography traders and collectors in Canada, India, Thailand, and Mexico. McVicker used the images he created as currency to obtain images of child sexual abuse from others. Agents from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) learned of McVicker’s activities after one of those collectors, a convicted American child pornographer living in Mexico, sent hundreds of McVicker’s self-produced images to an undercover HSI agent in Oregon posing as a child pornography collector. The collector in Mexico is presently serving a 15-year federal sentence following his conviction in Oregon for transportation of child pornography.
McVicker was indicted in Oregon and arrested in Belize after he travelled there to work on a commercial art project. Acting on information provided by HSI, authorities in Ecuador served an Ecuadoran search warrant at McVicker’s residence and seized his computer equipment. Forensic examinations of the equipment revealed a vast collection of over 360,000 images and more than 1,300 videos depicting the graphic sexual abuse of young children.
At the sentencing hearing, McVicker said that while he was born in the United States, he did not grow up here, and does not consider the United States his country. He believes that he should be facing charges in Ecuador, not in the United States. The government noted that McVicker’s conduct violated the laws of the United States, and was no less serious because his victims lived in Ecuador.
Judge Simon asked McVicker what “we, as a society” can do to prevent the sexual abuse of children in the future. McVicker replied, “Nothing at all.” He also apologized to “everyone who got hurt” by his conduct. Judge Simon urged McVicker to consider participating in scientific research geared toward better understanding and preventing future instances of child sexual abuse “in part, to repay for harms you’ve already caused.”
U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall praised the sentence imposed on McVicker. “This sentence sends a strong message that there is no safe haven for predators who sexually abuse children – not in this country, and not abroad,” she said. McVicker’s conduct was “particularly egregious” because “he created images of the abuse, distributed the images, and used them to amass a horrific library of sexual abuse images and videos.” She also praised the “extraordinary efforts of the HSI agents, both here and abroad,” in identifying and locating McVicker. Because of those efforts, Marshall said, “Kenneth McVicker will never again be able to sexually abuse a child.”
HSI officials echoed Marshall’s comments. “Kenneth McVicker repeatedly abused young children to satisfy his sexual desires, and continued doing so even after moving to another country,” said Brad Bench, special agent in charge of HSI’s Seattle office, which oversees Oregon investigations. “Americans who travel overseas to abuse children are not beyond the reach of U.S. law. HSI special agents will go anywhere in the world to track down child predators and bring them to justice.”
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice and led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
This case was investigated by the Homeland Security Investigations and was prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorneys Gary Sussman, Project Safe Childhood Coordinator for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Oregon, and Kelly Zusman, Appellate Chief for the District of Oregon.