Friday, May 30, 2008

Celebrating A Small Victory - One Stone of Truth

Psalm 103:6 says: The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.

Since the beginning of May many of us both in Canada and the U.S as well as friends in Cambodia have been praying that justice and truth would prevail. As I think of the verse from Psalm 103:6, I praise God and thank Him that He will work justice for all the oppressed. That He is mighty to save and deliver and twart the plans of the enemy. For me personally this morning's news that Micheal J. Pepe was convicted on 7 counts for the atrocities he perpetrated against 7 young victims -- some of them who I had the privilege of personally meeting, I am overwhelmed. I am reminded by one of Ratanak partners that we need to celebrate whatever little victories we have in this battle against the giant of child sex slavery. Today is one of those days when we celebrate and give thanks to God for all He has done in upholding justice. I thank God for the U.S legal system and the laws they have on their books that enables persectution of individuals who committed such lewd acts against the innocent.

I can only imagine how my precious little sisters must feel when they hear about this outcome. My prayer for each of them is that this legal outcome, will somehow be part of the process that God uses to continue to set them free, to empower and embolden them that they have a God who hears their cries, a God who is faithful and just, a God who will not let the sins committed against them go unnoticed, a God who is mighty to save, a God who will repay the years the locust have eaten from them, a God who loves them with an everlasting love, A God who will never forsake them, A God who is their refuge and strength, a God who is their hiding place, a God who protects them and will not sleep and slumber but who watches over their comings and goings, a God who will restore and redeem them, a God who himself died for them and who would rather be abused for them, a God who sets them free, a God who longs to show compassion to them, a God who is tender towards them, a God who has engraved them on the palm of His hands, a God who knows their heart, a God who knows their pain and suffering and who was there watching all the torture that they endured, a God who is their Hope, their Healer, their Savior and the Lover of their Soul. May they know the Lord Jesus Christ and the breadth, depth and height of His love for them and may this truth truly set them free to propel them forward to live for Him in such a way that His name will be glorified and exalted in all they do and say and become! To God be the Glory! Thank you Jesus for the privilege you give to us as we partner with you to see your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. May your name be Hallowed in each of our lives as we walk and reflect your light.

News Relese from the U.S Immigrations & Customs Enforcement:

Ex-Marine convicted of using drugs and force to have sex
LOS ANGELES - Following a three-week trial, a federal jury today convicted on seven felony counts a retired Marine Corps captain who traveled to Cambodia for the purpose of engaging in illicit sexual conduct with minors.

Michael Joseph Pepe, 54, a resident of Oxnard, faces up to 210 years in federal prison as a result of the guilty verdicts stemming from an investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

During the trial, government prosecutors presented testimony from six of the seven girls who Pepe sexually abused. The girls, who at the time of the abuse were between the ages of 9 and 12, testified that Pepe drugged, bound, beat and raped them. Several victims testified that Pepe required them to give him sexual massages and perform oral sex on him on a daily basis.
In addition to the victims' testimony, prosecutors presented corroborating evidence seized by the Cambodian National Police from Pepe's Phnom Penh residence, including rope and cloth strips used to restrain the victims, Rohypnol and other sedatives, and homemade child pornography.

The prostitute who acted as Pepe's broker testified on videotape about bringing him young victims. Pepe paid the broker and the victims' families for unlimited access to the girls. Pepe is scheduled to be sentenced here Sept. 3 by United States District Judge Dale S. Fischer.
"Predators such as Mr. Pepe should realize that their unspeakable acts will not go unpunished, even if committed in other countries," said United States Attorney Thomas P. O'Brien. "Child exploitation crimes are among the most important cases we prosecute. Wherever the young victims of these crimes are located, they must be protected from people like Mr. Pepe."
"Today's verdict is particularly gratifying and not surprising given the horrendous evidence introduced during this trial about the defendant's sexual exploitation of these vulnerable youths," said Robert Schoch, special agent in charge of the ICE office of investigations in Los Angeles. "This case represented one of the most egregious examples of international sex tourism we have ever investigated and the jury's verdict is a reminder that pedophiles who attempt to evade detection and prosecution by committing sex crimes overseas face serious consequences."
"The Diplomatic Security (DS) maintains an excellent working relationship with ICE and local Cambodian law enforcement personnel who coordinated and collaborated with the DS Regional Security Officer in Phnom Penh about Pepe, thus enabling the capture," said Joe D. Morton, Director of the Diplomatic Security Service. "It's this type of close, worldwide law enforcement liaison that gives the Diplomatic Security the unparalleled ability to assist in locating, pursuing and apprehending predatory criminals."

ICE received substantial assistance in the investigation from the Cambodian National Police and the Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service. Pepe is the fifth person to be prosecuted by the United States Attorney's Office for the Central District of California on child sex tourism charges under the provisions of the PROTECT Act, which took effect five years ago. The PROTECT Act substantially strengthened federal laws against predatory crimes involving children outside the United States by adding new crimes and increasing sentences.

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