Update: Plaintiffs A, B, C and D filed an appeal on October 2, 2014 after Defendant Richard Schair got the Human Trafficking lawsuit against him dismissed. The appellants’ unopposed motion to dismiss their appeal with prejudice was filed on February 12, 2015 by John W. Harbin from King & Spalding LLP of Atlanta Georgia. It states “The parties have negotiated the terms of a settlement of the underlying claims that should result in a withdrawal of the appeal prior to filing the Appellants’ opening brief.” The appeal was dismissed on March 4, 2015.
This historic case was “Initiated and coordinated by international human rights organization Equality Now. “The landmark civil case is noteworthy because it is the first time that the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) will be used by alleged victims of trafficking to seek damages from a sex tour operation.” Harbin and his law firm took on the case pro-bono in June, 2011 to represent four Brazilian women who alleged that former tour operator Schair lured them into prostitution for North American fishing clients while underage with one as young as 12. Schair’s clients included members of the Royal Order of Jesters, the Shriners’ secret sex club, who allegedly requested girls over 13. Schair is still being prosecuted in Brazil for similar charges.
Sandy Frost May 27, 2015
A motion to lift a year long stay has been filed on behalf of four Brazilian women who allege that former fishing tour operator Richard Schair of Gainesville, Georgia, coerced them while underage into prostitution for his North American fishing clients.
Attorney John Harbin moved “to lift the stay of this action ordered by the Court, pursuant to the Trafficking in Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2003” or TVPA.
He wrote as “Factual Background” that “On June 4, 2011, Plaintiffs initiated this action seeking damages for violations of the TVPA. On July 7, 2011, Defendant Richard Schair moved for a ‘mandatory stay’ of this action on the grounds that both the Brazilian authorities and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida were conducting criminal investigations of Defendant Schair, and that the terms of 15 U.S.C. 1595(b)(1) mandated a stay on such a motion.”
The motion then explained that Schair submitted evidence that Brazilian federal prosecutors are prosecuting him for child sex tourism while US prosecutors are conducting a criminal grand jury investigating him for child sex tourism. Documents included Brazilian court documents dated January 31, 2011, a target letter sent to his ex-wife Amelia from the US Attorney’s office dated December 16, 2010 and a Federal Grand Jury Subpoena for the US District court for the Southern District of Florida issued to Defendant Wet-a-Line Tours, dated June 25, 2009.
An online search for “Wet-A-Line” with the Georgia Secretary of State reveals that the corporation was “terminated.” The “Wet-A-Line Tours LLC” Certificate of Voluntary Termination has the Secretary of State terminating the company on May 9, 2011, with Schair backdating his signature to July 1, 2010. In Verification of his Answer of Defendants, he represents himself as President of Wet-A-Line Tours and swears the facts and assertions are true and correct to the best of his knowledge. The date of his signature is August 12, 2011.
According to the Secretary of State, the articles of dissolution must state that there are no actions pending against the corporation in any court or that adequate provision has been made for the satisfaction of any judgment, order or decree that may be ordered against the corporation in any pending action.
No such statements are in Schair’s dissolution though Wet-A-Line was subpoenaed in June, 2009.
The target letter to Schair’s ex-wife states “The Office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida has been asked by the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to review certain evidence concerning a matter that may relate to your conduct. Specifically, according to information that ICE and FBI supplied to this Office, you were involved with a company and/or an individual who may have engaged in child sex tourism in Brazil.”
The letter from Brazil’s Public Ministries’ Prosecutor for the Amazon to the Federal Judge of the Amazon lists those they “denounce” and then cites as fact that “Richardo Wayne Schair” and “Jose Lauro Rocha Da Silva” as partners of the Santana Turismo Ecologico Company between 2005 and 2007 sexually exploited minors and took advantage of the prostitution of minors. All the “denounced,” including Schair, are then charged with being part of a group that was established for the prostitution of underage Brazilians in the State of Amazon. They are further charged with:
- Sexual exploitation of minors.
- Facilitation of Prostitution.
- Domestic trafficking of people.
- Sexual Exploitation of minors.
Schair’s answer to the Plaintiffs’ complaint denied any wrong doing and revealed that the fishing boat used for the alleged prostitution was actually owned by Lauro Rocha and Jean Philip Perol. Rocha is a co-defendant as he, Schair and four others are being prosecuted in Brazil for operating a network of prostitution of underage girls for North American fishermen. Rocha was also called to testify before the Brazilian Congress as they conducted their own investigation. Perol was the head of the official French tourism office and the Chairman of the European Travel Commission. He told Elite Travelling magazine:
“My favorite region is the Amazon, and every year I invite friends from around the world to take a five-day cruise up the river on my boat. People from France, the U.S., Mexico, Canada and Brazil all mix together on board, up to 18 people. What happens is people discover themselves, and they all have a little something in common. I’ve done this for three years now, and it’s on board the 100-foot boat that I share with another friend.”
Fishing guides stated in court depositions in the first of three cases unsuccessfully launched by Schair to prove his innocence, that members of the Royal Order of Jesters took such fishing trips. The guides testified that these “Master Masons” asked for girls over 13 and that they took pictures of these Jesters having sex with underage girls. The guides testified that they gave these photos to the Brazilian Federal Police. The Brazilian Congress is also investigating a group of 20 North American fishing clients of Schair’s. It is has yet to be determined of this group is the Jesters. This same case included a witness list naming 19 Jesters.
Memberships go like this. One must first be a Master Mason before joining groups like the Scottish Rite, the Knights Templar and the Shriners. One must be a secretly invited Shriner before joining their secret sub-group, the Royal Order of Jesters. Members were caught in a human trafficking sting with four pleading guilty to getting prostitutes to a national Jester meeting in Canada as well as Kentucky, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania. Those caught include a former NY State Supreme Court Judge, his law clerk, a retired police captain and a retired Erie County deputy Sheriff.
The two other unsuccessful cases were filed against Newsvine.com, when Schair claimed defamation from my work and his failed request for Habeas Corpus, denied by a Brazilian Judge on June 23, 2009. She requested a Brazilian Federal Police report that included evidence they used to file legal proceedings against Schair in August, 2007. It stated "that since the year 2000, minor Indian and other girls living near the rivers in the region of the Municipality of Autazes/AM became victims of sexual exploitation by North American tourists." The evidence included the statements of five Brazilian girls, with one testifying that she was left pregnant at age 13 by one of Schair’s fishing clients. It is not known if one of the Jesters fathered the thirteen year old's child.
Back to the motion to lift the stay.
Attorney Harbin, who is representing the Plaintiffs pro bono, noted there were no changes in the status updates filed every ninety days since the case was first stayed.
Harbin states that “In issuing its decision, the Court stated that “[a]”t some point during this litigation, particularly if the investigation in this case does not proceed to a prosecution, the court will need to decide when and if a criminal investigation is no longer pending.” He submits that that time is now, a year after the Plaintiffs filed this suit.
According to the “Federal Regional Court of the First Region,” case number 0006327-13.2011.4.01.3200, entries document Brazilian case activity that may have qualified for the status update of May 14, 2012. It reported “At this time, the parties are not aware of any changes in the criminal proceedings in the United States or Brazil that were raised by the defendants in the motion to stay the case.”
Harbin then states that “it does not appear that the federal government intends to seek an indictment against either Defendant, as nearly three years has passed since the government issued its Subpoena to Defendant Wet-A-Line Tours, LLC. It appears that the United States Attorney’s interest in this matter has waned. Plaintiffs should not be made to endure further delays when the Defendants can only “theorize that an investigation might be possibly be ongoing.”
Harbin cited in support “Kolbek v Twenty First Century Holiness Tabernacle Church, Inc.” He wrote “The Kolbek court noted that the legislative history of the TVPA indicates that it was the Department of Justice that pushed for the inclusion of the mandatory stay in, based on a concern that civil suits might ‘hinder prosecutors’ abilities to try a case unfettered by the complications of civil discovery. The court found that Congress enacted these amendments to ‘strengthen the U.S. governments ability to combat the worldwide scourge of trafficking in persons by enhancing provisions on prevention of trafficking, protection of victims of trafficking and prosecution of traffickers,’ that the stay was not included to protect the defendants in civil actions. Ultimately, the court held, stays under the TVPA should be imposed in cases where the government has intervened, informed the Court of an ongoing investigation, and advised the civil case is subject to a mandatory stay. These circumstances do not exist here.”
Harbin concludes his argument by asking if including Schair’s Brazil prosecution is relevant under the statute, submitting that “the stay provision does not encompass foreign criminal proceedings.”
If the Honorable William O’Kelley, Senior Judge for the U.S. District Court, Gainesville Division agrees, would he disregard Schair’s potentially fraudulent status report?
Or, if the status report is proven fraudulent, might he charge Schair with perjury or contempt of court?
And finally, who is in charge of squaring up the “no actions pending against the LLC in any court” statement and dates on Schair’s dissolution documents with those dealing with Wet-A-Line from the Grand Jury because they don’t seem to match at all.
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