US man jailed for abusing Thai girls

US man jailed for abusing Thai girls

HONOLULU — An American man arrested in Hawaii has been sentenced to more than 21 years in prison for sexually exploiting teenage girls in Thailand and distributing child pornography.

The US Department of Justice said that Ronny Lee Waldrip received a 262-month sentence on Thursday in federal court in Honolulu.

Waldrip, 64, from Douglasville, Georgia, was arrested when he arrived in Honolulu with a laptop computer containing sexually explicit photos and videos of minors.

He pleaded guilty last year to one count of sexual exploitation of a minor outside the United States.

He was also ordered to pay US$45,000 in restitution to his victims. Further details were not available.

According to a plea agreement, Waldrip used a hidden camera to record his sexual acts with 14- and 15-year-old girls in Thailand, where he admitted he had travelled on numerous occasions to have sex with underage girls.

He also admitted that, on Feb 13, 2012, he travelled from Bangkok to Honolulu with a laptop computer containing images and videos of child pornography, including videos of him engaging in sexual acts with the victims.

Waldrip further admitted to using the internet to distribute the images and videos to another US citizen interested in child pornography.

The case was brought before the US courts as part of Project Safe Childhood, a Justice Department programme launched in 2006 to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse.

The Royal Thai Police helped with the investigation, US authorities said.

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