A New York body builder is facing court accusing of paying Filipino mothers to sexually abuse their own sons, one just six years old.
Keith Liwanag, aged 26, was taken into custody at his apartment in Rego Park, Queens, yesterday (Thursday, November 16) and charged with conspiracy to produce child pornography.
Prosecutors say they’ve got 10 recorded video conferences between Liwanag and women streaming the sex abuse.
Court papers say Liwanag wired more than $1,000 to the Philippines between March 2015 and October 2017.
On one occasion, it is alleged, Liwanag told a young mother he was a researcher working on “an experiment” about maternal affection.
Acting US Attorney Bridget Rohde said: “As alleged, the defendant victimised vulnerable children abroad by soliciting photographs and videos of their sexual abuse in exchange for money.”
Liwanag allegedly sent several messages to a woman on September 8 last year asking her to sexually abuse her six-year-old son as part of a “show” in exchange for money.
Then, three days later, he is accused of sending and receiving messages from another woman about a “show” with her son, offering her money to perform a sex act on him.
Angel Melendez, of Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), said: “His version of a ‘show’ allegedly included enticing a mother to sexually abuse her own son for his pleasure. We will be relentless in our pursuit of child predators to ensure they face justice for their unfathomable acts.”
It is further alleged that on October 12 last year Liwanag sent a message to a third woman, soliciting photographs of the sexual abuse of her child. Two weeks later, the woman sent him two images depicting child abuse.
Liwanag has been charged with conspiracy to produce child pornography and will be arraigned in Brooklyn federal court. If convicted, Liwanag would face up to 30 years in prison.
The investigation that led to Liwanag’s arrest was conducted under HSI’s Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children. Since its launch in 2003, some 16,000 people have been brought to justice. Last year alone, more than 2,600 child predators were arrested and more than 800 victims identified or rescued.