Child sex victim offered cash as ‘goodwill gesture’ by predator

A Qantas flight attendant has been jailed for 18½ years for sexually abusing children in the Philippines.

Chih Chen, 52, committed the abuse over a seven-year period between 2010 and 2017 while travelling for work and in his own time.

The Victorian Joint Anti-Child Exploitation Team (JACET) raided the man's house in Truganina in June 2017 and later charged him with 35 child-sex and exploitation offences.

AFP officers identified 26 female victims in the Philippines aged between 12 and 17, as a result of the investigation. They worked with the Philippine National Police (PNP) to find the victims.

Almost 6000 items of child sex material were found on hard drives and USB devices at his home.

Chen abused girls as young as 12.
Chen abused girls as young as 12.

In one case Chen took at least 175 photos and videos of a 17-year-old victim whom he claimed was his ex-girlfriend who he was helping financially as a "goodwill gesture".

In a message to another victim, he wrote: "U (sic) were so difficult and not willing last time".

In one video seized by police, the victim can be heard saying: "No picture, I don't like picture."

The predator trawled for his victims, often asking if they had friends he could be introduced to.

"You have other girlfriends who may want to meet?," he asked one victim.

He paid some of his victims small amounts of cash for sex and also offered some of them snacks to take home, including chocolate biscuits on one ­occasion.

When questioned by police, he said his Facebook account may have been hacked.

He pleaded guilty in the Melbourne Magistrates' Court to a host of offences including:

SEVEN charges of sexual ­intercourse with a child under 16 outside Australia;

THREE charges of persistent sexual abuse of a child under 16;

TWELVE charges of production of child pornography material outside Australia;

EIGHT charges of procuring a child to engage in sexual ­activity outside of Australia.

He was sentenced on Monday in the County Court.

Acting AFP Commander Paula Hudson said it was a "horrendous crime" that police acted quickly on.

"You act pretty quickly when a child is at risk," Ms Hudson said.

"This is very, very serious, it is the highest level of offending we come across in this line of work.

"There are so many victims and children this person has exploited."

She said the AFP were tipped off to the man's predatory behaviour from social media intel obtained from the USA.

The Philippines are said to be one of the more vulnerable countries for child exploitation offences, according to Australian authorities.

"We have a reasonable footprint over there," Ms Hudson said.

"There is quite a high uptake for pay for view offending."

Ms Hudson said the AFP were "dedicated" to crack down on any child exploitation offences that occur during the coming months as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The combination of children spending more time unsupervised on digital devices and adults becoming isolated as they work from home or become unemployed is worrying for police.

"People will spend more time online to stay connected," she said.

"We are very conscious of people being exploited at this time.

"Despite the pandemic, we will continue the pressure, to protect the most vulnerable people in our community."

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