01 February 2024, 4:13pm
Italian citizen charged over alleged sexual activity with minor
This is a joint media release between the Australian Federal Police and US Homeland Security Investigations.
An Italian national appeared before Downing Centre Local Court on Monday (29 January, 2024) charged with allegedly engaging in sexual activity with a minor in Indonesia.
Investigations began after US Customs and Border Protection allegedly found child abuse material on the man’s mobile phone when they searched his luggage on 24 January, 2024, after he arrived on a flight at Los Angeles International Airport.
An examination of the man’s mobile phone allegedly revealed a conversation with a teenage boy from Indonesia, in which the man allegedly instructed the boy to engage in sexual poses and activity via video call in exchange for money.
The matter was referred to the AFP’s Eastern Command Child Protection Operations after the man, 34, was denied entry to the United States and returned to Sydney.
On 28 January, 2024, the man, who is also an Australian resident, was arrested by AFP at Sydney International Airport as he attempted to board a flight destined for Mexico.
The man was charged with one count of sexual activity with a child outside of Australia, contrary to section 272.9(2) of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth) and denied police bail. The maximum penalty for this offence is 20 years’ imprisonment.
He was remanded in custody during his appearance on 29 January, 2024 to reappear in Downing Centre Local Court on 27 March, 2024.
AFP Detective Acting Inspector Nicole Kenny said the arrest was a testament to the strong bonds between Australian and United States authorities to stamp out the exploitation and abuse of children.
"Whether a victim is in Australia or overseas – the AFP and its partners will work to keep children safe from anyone who seeks to do them harm,” she said.
“These individuals cannot escape the long arm of the law and will be brought to justice.”
US Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Regional Attaché Ernest Verina said: “HSI is absolutely resolute in our commitment to protect children from sexual abuse."
“HSI’s strong international partnership with the AFP is the bulwark to anyone who has the depravity to attempt international travel with the intent to sexually abuse children.”
The AFP and its partners are committed to stopping child exploitation and abuse and the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation is driving a collaborative national approach to combatting child abuse.
The ACCCE brings together specialist expertise and skills in a central hub, supporting investigations into online child sexual exploitation and developing prevention strategies focused on creating a safer online environment.
Members of the public who have information about people involved in child abuse are urged to contact the ACCCE. If you know abuse is happening right now or a child is at risk, call police immediately on 000.
If you or someone you know is impacted by child sexual abuse and online exploitation, support services are available.
Research conducted by the ACCCE in 2020 revealed only about half of parents talked to their children about online safety. Advice and support for parents and carers about how they can help protect children online can be found on the ThinkUKnow website, an AFP-led education program designed to prevent online child sexual exploitation.
For more information on the role of the ACCCE, what is online child sexual exploitation and how to report it visit the ACCCE website.
Note to media
Use of term 'CHILD ABUSE' MATERIAL not ‘CHILD PORNOGRAPHY’
The correct legal term is Child Abuse Material – the move to this wording was among amendments to Commonwealth legislation in 2019 to more accurately reflect the gravity of the crimes and the harm inflicted on victims.
Use of the phrase ‘child pornography’ is inaccurate and benefits child sex abusers because it:
- indicates legitimacy and compliance on the part of the victim and therefore legality on the part of the abuser; and
- conjures images of children posing in 'provocative' positions, rather than suffering horrific abuse.
Every photograph or video captures an actual situation where a child has been abused.