By: Fr Shay Cullen
It was a normal day in the life of 13-year old Jeremiah as he was leaving the school yard in Angeles City. He saw his classmates running to get candies and chocolates being handed out by a very overweight, cheerful balding Caucasian man. He sat outside his house, which was close to the schoolyard, and was throwing around candies as if feeding chickens and the children flocked to get them. He invited some of the boys to come into his house and upstairs, where he invited them, to have more candies and watch television. He quickly made friends with them.
In the following days, he did the same again until the boys were groomed and comfortable in his house. Then he showed them videos of men and boys having sex. Jeremiah was embarrassed but Douglas Slade took him on to his lap and the abuse happened. It was just one of several incidents of sexual abuse and he became different, morose and depressed and was psychologically damaged by the sexual abuse.
Jeremiah then told his parents. They immediately filed charges against Douglas Slade and then the others boys came forward to say Slade had done similar acts of abuse to them. They filed charges.
Over several years, none of the court cases against the wealthy Slade prospered. There were rumors of corruption and bribery at all levels in the prosecution and the judiciary but inexplicably, despite the direct testimony of the victims and other witness, the lady judge dismissed the cases. In an interview with ITV, an undercover camera taped Slade admitting that his lawyer was able to make payments to have the cases dismissed.
There is a thriving dark business in courtrooms to allow foreign child sex abusers or wealthy Filipinos to go free for a price to abuse more children. That’s what Slade did: he felt protected and abused children again. What is also just as shocking is the level of corruption and absence of moral values among these duty bearers who are being paid to protect children and bring their abusers to justice.
To be abused by people you trust is a terrible life long experience and the vast majority of sexual abuse of children happens in the family- parents and relatives and neighbors. Thousands of children are sexually abused everywhere every day, one in over three girls have been abused and one in every six boys. That is a terrible statistic and a condemnation of human society. Only a fraction of the victims can ever tell the abuse has happened.
Slade had been accused of child sexual abuse in the UK years previously. He travelled to the Philippines where he set up a business and a house of sexual abuse of children and he got away with it due to corrupt officials. As a serious suspect in child sexual abuse case in the UK, he should have been banned from leaving the UK. But no court order was handed down to stop him fleeing.
Eventually after years of lobbying by Preda Foundation and good police work in the UK, Slade was extradited from the Philippines back to the UK and was put on trial for the historical child abuse he committed in the UK. He was convicted to 24 years in jail. The many boys he abused in the Philippines received no justice and no recompense. Preda with a pro-bon lawyer is suing Slade in the UK for compensation for the injuries they have suffered. That case is ongoing in London.
Those pedophiles like Slade and many thousands of others from Australia convicted of child abuse will be banned from traveling abroad as soon as the new law is activated. Now, the United States is considering new legislation to ban citizens from traveling to North Korea. Also, many nations have passed laws that ban suspected neophyte jihadists from travelling to Syria to join a jihad.
They are only suspected, not convicted of any crime, so it is right and good to have a law to ban convicted pedophiles and sex offenders from travelling beyond the reach of police monitoring and surveillance service in their own countries.
Prevention is so much better than cure. There was a time in the Philippines whereby a child had to be abused first before any crime was committed and action taken. So if a child sex abuser took a child to their hotel room, the police would not go to rescue the child because there was no evidence of abuse. They would need an arrest warrant.
Then we lobbied for many years and had the child protection law, known as Republic Act 7610, passed. Under Section 6 of the law, it is a blatant crime for a non-relative of a child to be alone with him or her in a secluded area. That gives the police and social workers the right to move in to the hotel room or any secluded place and rescue the child and make an arrest.
Lobbying and campaigning to your community and political leaders for a cancellation of the passports of pedophiles is just one great campaign that will save thousands of children from abuse in the days and years to come. Let’s get to work and do it!
Fr Shay Cullen is a Columban priest working in the Philippines and the founder of the the PREDA centre which rescues and rehabilates abused children. For more information see: www.preda.org