By Sam Stanton
Published: Monday, Aug. 31, 2009
Notorious child molester Jack Louis Sporich is in federal custody and being returned by plane from a Cambodian jail to face charges in the United States.
Sporich, who is believed to have molested more than 500 young boys since the 1960s, faces a criminal complaint of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places and is being returned to this country under the auspices of "Operation Twisted Traveler," an international law enforcement effort aimed at pedophiles who travel as "sex tourists."
Thom Mrozek, spokesman for U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O'Brien in Los Angeles, said Sporich's arrest would be announced at an 11 a.m. press conference today.
Sporich, 75, is a wealthy former engineer who prosecutors have said has been molesting children since he lived in Illinois in the 1960s. He was convicted in Ventura County of seven counts of molestation and spent nine years in prison before being sent to the Atascadero State Hospital as a "sexually violent predator."
Sporich, who was the focus of a 2006 Bee series on the failings of California's efforts to treat such predators, refused treatment at the hospital and won release in May 2004 after two juries were unable to agree on whether he might reoffend.
He settled into retirement in an upscale Sedona, Ariz., condo until 2006, when he was visited by Bee reporters and insisted in an interview that he was not a threat to anyone. He left Arizona after that and moved to Cambodia, where federal court documents state he spent $1.2 million building a home near the tourist destination of Siem Reap. He also became engaged to a 22-year-old Cambodian woman
Sporich was arrested Feb. 2 after an investigation by a local agency -- Action Pour Les Enfants-Cambodia -- alleged that he had lured three Cambodian boys aged 9 to 12 to his home with toys and candies. Court documents state that he also attracted them by dropping Cambodian currency in the street as he rode along the streets on a motor bike.
Sporich, who likely would have faced a sentence of one to three years under Cambodian law, remained in custody in Cambodia while authorities worked to bring him back to this country.
A criminal complaint filed in federal court in Los Angeles in April detailed Sporich's years of travel to Asia. He had boasted of his trips and his photo hobby in the interview with The Bee, and in his living room he had a photo he had taken of a young boy with his pants down urinating into a river from a bridge.
Law enforcement interviews with the alleged victims of Sporich indicated the boys referred to him as "Dad" and that he performed sex acts on them and bathed with them, federal documents indicate.
Sporich claimed in an interview with authorities that Cambodian police were "corrupt" and that the accusations against him were lies made up by the boys, documents indicate.
Sporich "stated he had done nothing wrong" but said he had taken showers with at least one boy, documents state.
The documents added that after talking with authorities in Cambodia, "Jack Sporich voluntarily uttered that he knows his life is over, that with this arrest he is a two-time loser, and that if the (Cambodian National Police) does not hang him, then Arizona will," court documents state.
The documents indicate Sporich paid the parents of his fiancée $1,000 to $2,000 to become engaged to her, when she was 18, and that he also purchased them a motor bike.
Sporich and the woman began adopting boys, the documents state, and he mused about someday turning his home near a golf course into a bed and breakfast.
Since Sporich's arrest, one nephew of his has said he was molested by him as a boy and his sister, who also lives in Cambodia, has waged an international media campaign to ensure that he remains in custody.
"I don't want him out anymore," June Caine, Sporich's older sister, told The Bee in May. "I think he's sick, and he's never going to get well. I don't want this to go on."
Sporich is expected to arrive at Los Angeles International Airport this afternoon along with two other suspects from California: Ronald Gerard Boyajian, 49, of Menlo Park, and Erik Leonardus Peeters, 41, of Norwalk. Both were arrested in February on child sex charges.
Federal officials said the three are charged under a law that went into effect six years ago "and substantially strengthened the federal laws related to predatory crimes involving children outside the United States." Each faces up to 30 years in prison.
"The men charged in this investigation apparently thought they could pursue their abhorrent desires by leaving the United States to prey on children in another country, but they were sadly mistaken," O'Brien, the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, said in a statement. "We are now working closer than ever with officials in other nations and concerned private parties to take every effort we can to identify and prosecute sex tourists, as well as to provide every protection we can to the world's children."