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Tacoma – A former Staff Sergeant stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to 22 years in prison for sex trafficking children, producing images of child sexual abuse, and traveling to sexually abuse children. Moeun Yoeun, 40, of Steilacoom, Washington, pleaded guilty in August 2022, admitting that young girls in the Philippines were threatened with death if they refused his sexual assaults. At the sentencing hearing U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle called the crimes “vicious, heinous, and cruel.”
“Mr. Yoeun weaponized his position of trust as a noncommissioned officer in the United States Army, to sexually exploit and cause irreversible trauma to impoverished girls in the Philippines,” said U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. “He cruelly threatened their lives if they tried to flee from his violent sexual assaults. This lengthy sentence is necessary to deter Mr. Yoeun and others who prey on children.”
In his plea agreement, Yoeun admitted to, over the course of several years, using adult and child residents of the Philippines to recruit more than a dozen other children to produce pornography. Yoeun further admitted to travelling to the Philippines and engaging in sexual acts with at least 6 children in exchange for nominal amounts of money.
Prosecutors cited numerous studies showing the long-term damage suffered by child sex abuse victims, concluding, ”[f]urther research only confirmed and expanded upon this emerging understanding of these insidious effects of childhood sexual trauma. Studies now tell us that the numerous child victims in this case, as a direct consequence of the Defendant’s violent sexual attacks, will face an elevated risk of alcohol abuse, illicit drug use, sexual promiscuity, and suicide.”
Yoeun will be required to register as a sex offender after he is released from prison and will be on federal supervision for 15 years.
The FBI and U.S. Army CID, with the assistance of the Philippine National Police, investigated this case as part of the South Sound Child Exploitation Task Force. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Grady J. Leupold and Matthew P. Hampton.
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 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.justice.gov/psc
Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Communications Director Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@usdoj.gov.