A Bay Area man was found guilty Monday of traveling to Cambodia to have illicit sexual conduct with young girls, according to officials
Ronald Gerard Boyajian, 55, who resided in Menlo Park and previously spent time on the Palos Verdes peninsula, was found guilty of three child exploitation crimes.
After a six-week trial in federal court, the jury found Boyajian guilty of travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct, engaging in illicit sexual conduct with a minor in foreign places, and committing these offenses while being required to register as a sex offender.
U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder is scheduled to sentence Boyajian on June 13. He is facing up to 30 years in prison for each of the two travel offenses and a 10-year term for committing these offenses while being required by California law to register as a sex offender.
Since two of his convictions carry the possibility that his sentences could be doubled, Boyajian’s could end up serving 130 years behind bars, according to officials.
Boyajian was arrested by the Cambodian National Police in February 2009, while he was on his 35th trip to Asia over a nine-year period.
Boyajian began traveling to Cambodia shortly after completing his parole following convictions for illegal sex with a minor and oral sex with a minor in 1994.
“The evidence presented at trial showed that Boyajian thought that he could molest and intimidate his young victims with impunity because he was in a foreign country, but he could not have been more mistaken,” said U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Protecting children from sexual exploitation is one of our top priorities, and we will pursue pedophiles across the globe if necessary. I also salute the courage of his victims who were willing to come to the United States to be witnesses at the trial and testify against him.”
Federal prosecutors presented evidence that Boyajian sexually assaulted four victims, girls who were between 8 and 11 years old when Boyajian attacked them. One victim, who was approximately 8 when she was molested, testified at trial that “he was abusive, he was cruel, he treated me like I wasn’t even human.”
Boyajian paid pimps and sometimes relatives from impoverished families to have access to his victims, which he preferred to weigh less than 70 pounds.
While the attacks took place in the village of Svay Pak – which is known as Kilo 11 because it is located 11 kilometers outside of Phnom Penh – the victims were Vietnamese immigrants who lived in the poor community.
A Cambodian police’s anti-human trafficking officer testified at trial that Svay Pak was well known as a place where foreigners went to have sexual contact with females, often young girls. Boyajian went to Svay Pak to have “unlimited access to young girls for sex,” prosecutors said in court.
“For the young victims robbed of their childhood and innocence by this defendant, justice has been a long time coming, but they can take consolation knowing he will now be made to pay for his crimes,” said Joseph Macias, special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations Los Angeles. “I applaud the efforts by the HSI special agents here and overseas, who, along with the federal prosecutors, have fought tirelessly to vindicate the rights of these child victims. Today’s verdict should send a clear and resounding message that traveling overseas to exploit children will not go unnoticed or unpunished.”
Boyajian’s conviction follows convictions and lengthy sentences imposed on other sex tourists who were prosecuted in Los Angeles, including Michael Joseph Pepe, who was sentenced to 210 years in federal prison after being convicted of abusing seven victims in Cambodia, and Stanley Dan Reczko, who received a mandatory life-without-parole sentence for producing child pornography with a minor victim in the Philippines.
The case against Boyajian is the result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations in Los Angeles and Homeland Security Investigations’ Attaché Offices in Bangkok, Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh, with the assistance of the United States Embassy in Phnom Penh.