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American sentenced to nine years in prison under 'sex tourism' law for abusing girl in Cambodia

December 21, 2010 |  7:15 am

A man who taught school in Cambodia was sentenced Monday in Los Angeles to nearly nine years in federal prison for traveling abroad to have sex with a 14-year-old girl, authorities said.

Michael James Dodd, 61, was sentenced to 104 months and was ordered to pay $9,500 restitution to the victim, according to a statement Monday from the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles.

Dodd pleaded guilty on Sept. 10 as part of a plea agreement to one count of traveling to Cambodia and engaging in illicit sexual conduct with a minor.

Dodd had a sexual relationship with the girl for five months in 2008 while he was teaching at a private school in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman with the U.S. attorney’s office.

He had a “financial arrangement” with the girl’s family and gave them food and about $200 a month, but Mrozek said authorities are unclear about whether the family knew anything inappropriate was going on.

“There shouldn’t be any suggestion that he was renting the girl or the family was prostituting her out,” he said. “Although there is no question that this girl and her family lived in impoverished conditions that are really hard to imagine.”

Dodd was convicted in Cambodian court in 2008 for sexually abusing the girl and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

He served 16 months before his extradition back to the U.S., where he was prosecuted under the Protect Act, which outlaws child sex tourism even if the crimes were committed in other nations, Mrozek said.

The FBI began an investigation into Dodd in 2008 after receiving a tip from World Vision, a nonprofit organization that was counseling and sheltering the girl at the time.

Dodd has spent at least 10 years abroad in various countries, Mrozek said. Although he taught in Cambodia, he told the FBI he was prohibited from teaching school in many countries because he had been convicted of sexual abuse in the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. Commonwealth.

He was convicted in 2002 of five counts of sexual misconduct with minors in Saipan and sentenced to 10 years in prison. He was paroled after five years but soon left the country, Mrozek said.

U.S. District Judge John Walter, who sentenced Dodd, described him as a “cunning, clever and manipulative predator.”

“This is one of the most disgusting cases that has ever come before this court,” Walter said.


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