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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, February 26, 2021

Florida Attorney Charged With Sexually Abusing Children In Cambodia

Tampa, Florida – United States Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez announces the return of an indictment charging Rugh James Cline (40, Tampa) with five counts of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign place and one count of possessing child exploitation materials. If convicted, Cline faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison for each count of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign place and up to 20 years’ imprisonment for possessing child pornography. Cline will be deported to the United States after he completes serving his prison sentence in Cambodia on local charges.

According to the indictment, in February 2019 and May 2019, Cline, a United States citizen and Florida-licensed attorney, traveled to Cambodia. While in Cambodia, Cline paid to sexually abuse four different minors. The indictment also charges Cline with traveling to Cambodia while possessing materials depicting the sexual abuse of children.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the U.S. Department of State and the Cambodian National Police. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Frank Murray.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. 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 locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.

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Updated February 26, 2021