An American has been arrested at his Cebu City home for possession of sexually explicit photos and videos of underage Filipina girls.
Charles Gergley was taken into custody after police implemented a search warrant on his apartment near Mango Avenue on Thursday (October 18).
The search yielded electronic equipment, condoms and hundreds of sachets of candy that the 51-year-old allegedly handed out to his potential victims.
Also found in the apartment were hundreds of sexually explicit images and videos, many showing the suspect engaging in sexual acts with girls.
Police said Gergley, who has lived in Cebu City for five years, has been under investigation since intelligence gathered from a rescue operation in July revealed his involvement in the online sexual exploitation of children.
International Justice Mission (IJM) Cebu Field Office director John Tanagho commended the police for the successful operation.
“IJM commends the Philippine National Police’s Women and Children Protection Center–Visayas Field Unit for the courage and commitment they have shown in the fight to protect vulnerable Filipino children from online sexual exploitation,” he said.
“As a result, more children will be protected from this perverse abuse and more perpetrators will be restrained by the law — all of this will lead to increased deterrence as online abusers realise the high risk of engaging in their selfish and vicious crimes.”
Police chief Romeo Perigo, who oversaw the operation, said Gergley lived in a quiet neighbourhood and had not aroused suspicion locally.
“The neighbourhood never would have known that sexual abuse was happening. Our investigation started with a referral from a foreign law enforcement agency. So, we are requesting our countrymen to be aware and report any unusual activity in their place to the police so that we can prevent the abuse of our women and children,” he said.
Gergley will be charged under the Cybercrime Prevention Act and the Anti-Child Pornography Act, as well as for possession of child pornography with the intent to distribute, which is a non-bailable offence.
Other charges may also be filed against Gergley for other suspected acts of sexual abuse.
As we recently reported, over the past two months, the IJM has supported the police in 120 operations that have led to the arrest of 179 suspected traffickers and the rescue of 415 victims.
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