Warning: Extremely disturbing graphic content.
Editor’s Note: This is the third of three articles related to how 19 members of the Royal Order of Jesters were called as to testify for the defense in a federal lawsuit about their alleged firsthand knowledge of minor prostitution while on a fishing trip, apparently one of many, to Brazil. The Royal Order of Jesters is a non profit group made up of 24,000 invited Shrine leaders, who must first be Master Masons. Included in the court documents are statements from five Brazilian Indian girls who allege they were “victims of sexual abuse perpetuated by a group of foreign tourists, North Americans.” The girls' statements are available to the public through the federal court information system, PACER. There is no direct link between these girls and the Jesters. Let me repeat that. There is no direct link between these girls and the Jesters, however two Brazilian fishing tour guides testified in their depositions in the same case that they saw “Masons” having sex with teen prostitutes. Additionally, all the girls testified that they were recruited every year by the same man, an American named “Richard,” during the same time of year that he took the Jesters on their fishing trips to Brazil. Creative liberties were taken to tell this story through the eyes of the girls.
The Associated Press reported last Friday, May 30, 2008, that:
“A retired Marine captain was convicted Thursday of having sex with pre-teen girls while working as a teacher in Cambodia. A federal jury found Michael Joseph Pepe guilty of seven counts of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places. The federal law targets people who go overseas for so-called child sex tourism. During trial, six girls who were between 9 and 12 at the time of the abuse testified that Pepe drugged, bound, beat and raped them. Pepe was arrested in Phnom Penh in 2006 by Cambodian police investigating the sexual abuse allegations. Pepe, 54, of Oxnard, faces up to 210 years in prison when he is sentenced in September.”
Unfortunately, child sex tourism is in the news.
Here are details of how it works, from those alleging they have been so victimized.
Imagine that you are a poor 13 year old Brazilian girl living with your poor family on your poor people’s land; the Indigenous Area AKA your reservation. A North American illegally enters the Indigenous Area, asking for your help on his tourist fishing boat, namely sweeping, laundry and cooking. You agree because your family needs the money. Your mother and step-father are scared because they have heard the stories about what has happened to “the others.” Against all hope, they wave and watch as you and nine other girls go off with this American stranger.
When you get to the boat, you learn that your real job is to drink whiskey and beer and have sex with the foreigners who are in your country on a fishing trip. After the foreigners have sex with you and go back home, you are left pregnant, not knowing who fathered your baby.
Three years later, you find yourself sitting in the office of the Regional Superintendent of the Federal Police of the State of Amazonas with your mother, a federal police transcriber, an attorney hired to represent you and the Federal Police Chief, who is asking you to tell him what happened. The police want to know because they are investigating that minor Indian and other girls living near the rivers in the regions of Autazes became victims of sexual exploitation by North-American foreign tourists.
This girl’s deposition and the depositions of four others were taken by the Brazilian Federal Police on June 13, 2007. The Police Chief also hears the others tell him how the same stranger went to the same village every year, luring girls to help him with housekeeping and cooking on his boat .
Instead, the American hires the under-age girls during the tourist’s fishing season. The girls are not paid what was promised for “programs” that consist of oral sex, strip and dance contests on the boat with the American fishermen. The girls allege in their depositions that they were told they’d be paid one rate, but were paid much less of what had been promised.
The second girl tells the Federal Police Chief that she is coming forward “spontaneously” to report that she was the victim of sexual abuse perpetuated by a group of foreigner tourists, North Americans, who, when she was 14, in August of 2005, came to her village to entice her to provide her cleaning services on a boat. She said yes because she needed the money.
When she boarded the vessel with her 16 year old sister and other girls, she learned that she would have to have sex with the foreigners, besides having to pose nude in pictures. She spent a week on the boat, having sex with two foreign tourists, who also paid her for sex. She tells the Federal Police Chief that every year, the same American takes the same tourists to those prostitution programs because many other girls have also been taken to such programs. Every year during the tourist’s fishing season, in August and September, the boat enters the indigenous Area and that the Americans hire the girls, always promising that it is for domestic labor.
The third girl is 18. She is also sitting in the office of the Regional Superintendent of the Federal Police of the State of Amazonas. Also present are her attorney, the Federal Police Chief and transcriber. She has an incomplete elementary education, is of indigenous culture and is a member of an ethnic tribe. She is also reporting that she was the victim of sexual abuse perpetuated by a group of foreigners, North Americans, who, when she was 16, in September, 2005, enticed her to participate in sexual programs.
At the time she was spending her week in school, she was asked to provide domestic services on a boat of tourists. After she gets there, the foreigners take pictures of her and the other girls and invited them to work on the boat, promising to pay two hundred or three hundred Reais for two to three days of work. This translates to about $120 - $180, USD. She accepted the offer because her mother was very ill and needed the money for health treatment in the city of Manaus.
Like the others, when she boarded the vessel, she learned she would have sex and to drink whiskey and beer with the foreigners. The first time she spent two days and two nights on the boat, she had to have sex with three foreigners. On the second time, she spent two days and one night with one foreigner.
She tells the Police Chief how there were about fifteen to eighteen other girls taken on board for the sexual programs. She also describes how the same American and his boat comes every year during August and September during the tourists’ fishing season to the Indigenous Area and that the Americans hire the girls, always promising that it is for domestic labor. She supposes that some of the girls know that the program is about sex and some other girls don’t. Last year, in 2006, she was called by the same American but refused to work those programs.
The fourth girl is in the same office with the same people on the same day to answer questions asked by the same federal police. She says she is appearing spontaneously to report that she was also a victim of sexual abuse perpetuated by a group of foreign tourists. At the time, she was 16 and was accompanied by her sister who was 14 years old. Like the others, she testifies that she was hired to perform domestic labor but after boarding the boat, learned that in reality she would have to have sex with the foreigners.
On that occasion, she spent two days on the boat, she had to have sex with one foreign tourist who went by the nickname “CARECA” (bald). She was promised to be paid $100 Reais, but received only $35 Reais. Translated, she was promised about $60 USD but was paid only $20. She says that approximately ten girls were taken on board for sexual programs and that every year, the same American, takes the same tourists to those prostitution programs, because she knows that many other girls have also been taken to such programs. As far as she knows, the same boat enters the Indigenous Area and that the Americans hire the girls, always promising that it is for domestic activities during the months of August and September, during tourism fishing season.
The fifth girl testifies that she was first contacted in the year 2000 by the same American who organizes tourist excursions inside the indigenous areas of Autazes and from that year on, she began to participate in the sexual programs with foreign tourists, always on the same American’s boat. She said that the same American appeared every year in the region to conduct his excursions and, consequently, the prostitution programs.
This girl then explained how the same American used her to contact other girls of the villages as well as from the city of Autazes. She said he promised to pay her one amount, not only for having sex with the foreigners, but pay her based on the number of girls she recruited, but he never paid what he promised. She stated that in 2006, she again participated in “Richard’s” programs but that she only spent one night on board because she had a problem with him because “he was drunk and could not perform sexually” with her.
When she demanded that she be paid, he locked her in his cabin. After much crying, “Richard” paid her half of the $100 Reais he promised. This translates to being promised $60 USD but only being paid about $30 USD. She also stated that sometimes “Richard” rents the bar and fast-food venue “Dois Irmaos,” which means “Two Brothers,” in the city of Autazes, where she works, to take the girls there to perform striptease.
This is the end of the girls’ depositions, which can be found here.
"The Facts About Child Sex Tourism" is available from the U.S. Department of State here.
"Child Sex Tourism" is available from the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section of the U.S. Department of Justice here.
A group fighting the commercial sexual exploitation of children, ECPAT, has a website here. This site also provides information on the third World Congress Against Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents, to be held November 25, 28 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
According to the conference organizers:
"The sexual exploitation of children and adolescents is a global reality and the problem is growing. Eliminating this horrific practice, and protecting children and adolescents from it, is a challenge all countries in the world must meet together. Following Stockholm 1996 and Yokohama 2001, Brazil will host the World Congress III Against the Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents in Rio de Janeiro...Over the last decades ECPAT International has been a lead partner in mobilising and supporting the processes and follow up action of the previous two World Congresses, ensuring that these events served as a mechanism to secure commitment and strengthen global action against the violation of children’s rights."
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