• Matt Esnayra

Ex-US marine sentenced to 210 years for raping, drugging & sexually abusing girls in Cambodia



A former Marine and university professor was sentenced to over 200 years in federal prison on Monday for allegedly traveling to Cambodia in 2005 to drug, rape, and engage in sexual activity with minors, according to the US Attorney's Office.


Details:

Oxnard resident Michael Joseph Pepe, age 68, has been described as "monstrous" and "horrific" by United States District Judge Dale S. Fischer for sexually assaulting victims between the ages of 9 to 12 years of age.

  • Pepe, a former professor at a university in Cambodia, was arrested in 2006.

  • The US Attorney's office says that jurors heard testimony during the seven-day trial from several victims who were as young as 9-years-old when they were sexually abused.

  • Some of the evidence provided by prosecutors included handmade child pornography.

  • Homeland Security and the Cambodian National Police investigated the crime.


Why it matters: Even though Pepe was convicted in 2008, the verdict was jeopardized when it was revealed that the primary investigator, ICE Special Agent Gary Phillis, had a sexual relationship with a Vietnamese interpreter who translated for several of the victims, per the LA Times.


What they're saying:

US District Judge Dale S. Fisher said of Pepe's crimes, "What he did to those girls… was torture," and there was "no justification for a sentence that would ever allow [Pepe] to be released from prison."


What Next:

Pepe's restitution hearing will occur on Feb. 28.


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