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Articles Posted in Sexual Crimes/Assault

MIAMI, FL—July 26, 2011 – Pittsburgh prosecutors offered a plea agreement on July 20, 2011 to a 72-year-old man who boarded a Royal Caribbean cruise ship with the intention of engaging in illicit sexual activity with children in 2009. According to information provided by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, prosecutors evidently offered the plea deal upon considering the defendant’s age and psychological background, as well as the duration of the said molestation.

Associated Press reports indicated surveillance cameras aboard the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Liberty of the Seas caught ex-chemical engineer Sherwood Stevenson inappropriately touching a 6-year-old boy in a hot tub, only a few days into the Dec. 2009 cruise voyage. Although the young boy managed to escape after a few minutes, Stevenson momentarily fondled another child aboard the ship.

Had it not have been for Stevenson’s plea agreement, pleading guilty to <interstate travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct would have likely landed him in prison for a decade. Stevenson, who was booked into Allegheny County Jail, is expected to spend approximately four years in prison in connection with the cruise ship sexual assault case.

Reports noted that Stevenson is prescribed psychiatric drugs for an unspecified mental illness, which prosecutors seemed to take into account prior to offering him a plea bargain in the child-sex case. Stevenson is scheduled to appear in court for sentencing on Nov. 22.

According to U.S. Department of Justice statistics posted on the website for the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), 15 percent of sexual assault and rape victims have yet to even reach the age of 12. Overall, 44 percent of victims are under the age of 18, with 29 percent of the total accounting for individuals between the ages of 12 and 17.

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MIAMI, FL— June 29, 2011An American man who was accused of having unlawful sexual relations with at least eight impoverished Haitian children at the residential center that he set up in the Caribbean nation’s capital of Port-au-Prince pleaded not guilty to four counts of child sex tourism on June 23, 2011. According to information provided by the Associated Press, the defendant, a 66-year-old man from Brighton, Michigan, had been detained since Miami police arrested and charged him on May 8.
Matthew Andrew Carter set up the Morning Star residential facility in the mid-nineties to provide poor Haitian boys, who were either orphans or had parents who could not afford to care for them in a sufficient manner, with a place to live, food to eat, schooling and other living necessities.

Carter, who would travel back and forth between Haiti and the United States, reportedly rented several different homes to run his residential center in over the years. At the time that the alleged child sex tourist was arrested in Miami, there were 14 male students permanently living at the Morning Star Center and three others who spend their weekends there.
Reports indicated Carter would offer the students gifts or money if they performed illicit sexual acts on him. The criminal complaint alleges that Carter would threaten to stop supporting the boys who refused to submit to his sexual demands, and sometimes even physically abuse them, either with his fist or a stick.

Four boys who were living at the Port-au-Prince residential center at the time of his arrest told reporters that Carter would lock those who rejected his demands outside “with the dogs,” occasionally shooting his firearm in the air. One of the boys who claimed to have been sexually assaulted said that such abuse started when he was 10 years of age, ending only six years later when the student refused to be subjected to any more sexual exploitation. In response to the boy’s refusal to partake in any more illegal sexual activity, Carter in turn refused to buy the student any clothes, shoes or reading material.   
According to Miami U.S. Attorney Wilfredo Ferrer, “This defendant preyed on innocent Haitian children living in severely depressed conditions, making his conduct particularly deplorable…Rather than using Morning Star as he promised — to administer aid and provide sanctuary to needy children — he used the center to manipulate, abuse and sexually exploit them.”

While none of the young sexual assault victims have been identified, the Miami child sex tourism case is ongoing. Reports noted that if the defendant is ultimately found guilty of all four counts of child sex tourism, he could spend up to 15 years in prison for the first count ONLY. The additional three counts could land him in prison for up to thirty years each—bring his potential prison sentence up to about 105 years. 
The U.S. Justice Department’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) describes child sex tourists as “individuals that travel to foreign countries to engage in sexual activity with children.”

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