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Press Release

Former Teacher Sentenced to 12 Years in Prison for Exploiting Children in Laos

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts
Defendant taught English to impoverished children

BOSTON – A Lynn man was sentenced today in federal court in Boston for sexually exploiting minors to whom he taught English in Laos.

Michael Sebastian, 56, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Denise J. Casper to 12 years in prison to be followed by five years of supervised release. In December 2023, Sebastian pleaded guilty to three counts of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places. 

Sebastian taught English to impoverished children in Laos. While teaching children there, Sebastian allowed certain students to live with him in his apartment. Students who were unable to pay for their living expenses performed “chores” around the house to earn credit towards their rent payments. One of the “chores” eligible for rent credit was to give Sebastian massages, during which Sebastian would be naked. As part of these massages, Sebastian required some students to touch his genitals and masturbate him in lieu of rent payment.

Sebastian is charged with sexually abusing three minor children who lived with him between May 2018 and March 2020.

“Mr. Sebastian took advantage of young, vulnerable children in his care and forced them to perform sexual acts for his gratification. Instead of providing a safe home for learning as he had promised, these children were manipulated by the defendant to take part in disturbing behaviors,” said Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy. “The depraved conduct directed at children is startling and, as this case demonstrates, our office and our federal law enforcement partners are committed to aggressively prosecuting individuals who sexually abuse children. The message should be heard loudly and clearly: predators in Massachusetts and beyond will be found and brought to justice.”

“Michael Sebastian apparently thought, because he was halfway around the world, he could commit these heinous crimes with impunity. Today’s sentence makes it clear that was wrong,” said Jodi Cohen, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division. “This serial sex offender shamelessly exploited three Laotian boys who were destitute and dependent upon him for shelter and education for his own gratification. Protecting vulnerable kids from predators like him is a top priority for FBI Boston’s Child Exploitation – Human Trafficking Task Force.”

Acting U.S. Attorney Levy; Nicole M. Argentieri, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; and FBI SAC Cohen made the announcement. This case was investigated by the FBI’s Legal Attache office in Bangkok, along with assistance provided by the FBI’s Child Exploitation Operational Unit, the Boston FBI’s Child Exploitation Human Trafficking Task Force and the U.S. Diplomatic Security Service, Laos. Assistant U.S. Attorney Anne Paruti, Project Safe Childhood Coordinator and Chief of the Major Crimes Unit and Trial Attorneys Nadia Prinz and Eduardo Palomo of the Justice Department’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section prosecuted the case.

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. Led by the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the DOJ’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit

Updated July 10, 2024

Project Safe Childhood