A former airline pilot has been sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of a multitude of charges, including traveling to Asia to have sex with underage girls, and purchasing young children for the specific purpose of sexually brutalizing them in order to produce child pornography.
Michael Carey Clemans, 57, split his time between his native Sacramento and Bangkok. Prosecutors state that Clemans used his parents’ computer in Sacramento to arrange his various salacious business dealings in Thailand and the Philippines. As VOA News reports, the District Attorney described the charges against Clemans as absolutely “appalling and heinous.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Michael Carey Clemans, a Former Airline Pilot & Army Veteran, Has Been Charged in What Prosecutors are Calling One of The Most Disturbing Cases of Child Exploitation in History
57-year-old Michael Carey Clemans, an army veteran and former airline pilot has been sentenced to life in prison after he was found guilty of trafficking Filipino children. Clemans is accused of using the children for sex and pornography. Prosecutors are calling Carey’s case one of the most disturbing child exploitation cases in American history.
Clemens was sentenced in Sacramento on Tuesday after being charged with sexually abusing children and exploiting them to produce child pornography in a report filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Eastern California.
“U.S. Attorney Scott stated, “In the last four years, over 40 federal defendants prosecuted by this office have received sentences ranging from 15 years up to life in prison for crimes against children. Many of those defendants were repeat offenders or, like Clemans, were responsible for the recorded sexual abuse of their victims. Advances in technology have escalated both the heinous nature and pervasiveness of these violent crimes that affect the most vulnerable members of our communities. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to continuing its collaboration with our state, local and federal partners to locate these offenders and ensure that they are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” as reported in the U.S. Attorney’s Office Press Release.
2. Clemans is Accused of Raping, Exploiting & Purchasing Children As Young as 7 Years Old
For two years, Clemans lived in Bangkok, Thailand, supporting himself by working as a pilot for a Thai airline. In June of 2014, he began to communicate and conspire online with a Filipino woman, Lyan Tandeg. Clemans and Tandeg discussed producing child pornography and finding girls as young as age 7 Clemans could rape. The full charges against Clemans are available for viewing on Justice.gov.
The full complaint filed against Clemans:
An example of the email correspondence sent by Clemans to Tandeg is as follows, reported by KVTR:
“i want to be able to get my photos and arrange sex with the underage girls
i do not want you or me to get into trouble
so we have to be very very careful”
Prosecutors stated that Clemans’ crimes were meticulously, carefully and elaborately planned, with Clemans going to great lengths to hide his online activities by accessing the dark web. He also is accused of using multiple overseas banking networks while doing business with over 50 child pornography providers. Clemans is accused of obtaining more than 27,000 files containing images and video depicting child pornography, as detailed in the U.S. Attorney’s Press Release.
Clemans is accused of sending Tandeg over $6,000 to buy cameras and other equipment which she photographed naked children with. Then, she would send the images to Clemans so he could select which children he wanted. Once he made his decision, he would travel to the Philippines to rape the children. “He sent her online instructions to find very young virgins, directing her to search for orphans, victims of typhoons and other vulnerable victims. He paid a co-conspirator, Shellina Atad, to obtain temporary custody of Filipino children and produce child pornography,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office writes in its press release.
A second co-conspirator, Sheila Atad, was also implicated in the case. Atad is accused of helping Tandeg to adopt vulnerable girls from orphanages so that they could be sexually exploited.
Additionally, Clemans wanted Tandeg to avoid staying in hotels because they might have video surveillance, so he had her rent private apartments instead. He also told her to keep quiet and not mention their activities to anyone. In 2013, prosecutors state that Clemans traveled to Manila specifically to have sex with children, one of whom was only 11. The DA states that the children Clemans is accused of raping in Manila in 2013 were all victims that he selected after viewing pornographic images of them, as WTOL explains.
Clemans returned to the Sacramento home in 2015 so that he could continue corresponding with Tandeg online using his mother’s computer. He made arrangements with Tandeg to travel to the Philippines multiple times so that he could rape several underage girls, according to prosecutors, USA Today reports. An FBI search warrant was executed to search Clemans’ Sacramento home and seize his computer, WTOL reports.
3. U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott Said That He Wants to Send a Message to Other Suspected Pedophiles
Investigators went so far as to bring three of Clemans’ alleged victims from the Philippines to Sacramento to testify at Clemans’ trial. At the time the alleged abuse occurred, the children were 7, 9, and 10 years old.
“Tandeg and Sheila Atad, another co-conspirator who was accused of helping to obtain vulnerable girls from orphanages, were arrested in 2015 and later convicted and sentenced to 15-year prison terms in the Philippines for child exploitation crimes, according to court documents. Clemans argued that he should receive some sentencing consideration for having a clean criminal record, accepting responsibility for his conduct, and for letting investigators use his online accounts to set up his co-conspirators for prosecution,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office writes.
“Clemans is precisely the type of person for whom a life sentence exist, (sic) a remorseless child-sex-predator who poses an urgent, persistent, and grievous risk to all children for the rest of his life,” prosecutors said in a court filing, WTVR reports.
“He sent money to that person to procure the children, requested in graphic detail the types of pornographic images he wanted of those children, those images were made and sent to him, he selected which children he wanted to travel to the Philippines to have sex with,” DA McGregor Scott said in court.
Scott referred to Clemans’ sentencing as a major a victory “in the fight against child sex trafficking and said he hopes the outcome of this case sends a message to others.”
“I want to send a message to the online predators out there,” Scott said. “We’re those guys and we’re coming every day. We’re going to find you and you’re going to find a nice place where Mr. Clemans has to spend the rest of his life,” WTVR reports.
4. Sex Trafficking is Estimated to Generate Between $32-$150 Billion Annually
Soroptimist reports the following:
Human trafficking is a $32 billion annual industry, modern day trafficking is a type of slavery that involves the transport or trade of people for the purpose of work. According to the U.N., about 2.5 million people around the world are ensnared in the web of human trafficking at any given time.
Human trafficking impacts people of all backgrounds, and people are trafficked for a variety of purposes. Men are often trafficked into hard labor jobs, while children are trafficked into labor positions in textile, agriculture and fishing industries. Women and girls are typically trafficked into the commercial sex industry, i.e. prostitution or other forms of sexual exploitation.
Not all slaves are trafficked, but all trafficking victims are victims of slavery. Human trafficking is a particularly cruel type of slavery because it removes the victim from all that is familiar to her, rendering her completely isolated and alone, often unable to speak the language of her captors or fellow victims.
5. Child Sex Trafficking is Prevalent Throughout Southeast Asia & Many of Those Involved in Exploiting The Victims Are Westerners
Child sex trafficking has unfortunately become an extremely lucrative business in the Philippines, where children are lured from rural villages with the promises of high-paying jobs. However, most boys end up working as indentured servants or even slaves, forced to do manual labor, and most girls wind up in the sex industry, VOA News reports.
Child sex trafficking is prevalent throughout Southeast Asia. It is almost as profitable as the drug trade and arms smuggling, VOA News continues.
“An anti-sex trafficking organization rescues between 20 and 60 children a week. But officials say thousands are never found,” reports VOA News.
VOA News elaborates on the efforts to rescue children from sex trafficking:
“Across the street from Manila’s main North Harbor port, Visayan Forum runs an emergency shelter where rescued children stay for several days while social workers attempt to locate their parents. Marina Ulleque is a social worker with the Visayan Forum. She meets the boats at Manila’s busy international sea port and hands out cards with emergency numbers to possible child victims, telling they can get help. She says her work has its dangers. The Visayan Forum has filed nine criminal cases against traffickers on behalf of 31 children during the past three years. No trafficker has been convicted, but Ms. Ulleque says those arrested will sometimes threaten workers from her organization. Despite the efforts of local and international anti-trafficking groups, the problem is growing in Southeast Asia. Many experts say that the extreme poverty in the Philippines, Cambodia, Burma, Laos and Indonesia, combined with poor law enforcement and corruption, means that traffickers will continue to prey on the region’s children.”
“Working undercover in bars and brothels across Southeast Asia to combat child sex slavery, campaigner Kevin Campbell has posed many times as a tourist looking to buy sex with a girl,” reports Reuters.
Campbell, works for the anti-trafficking group The Exodus Road, and says it is less common to see children being sex trafficked openly in major cities, which was more prevalent in the past. Now, the majority of child sex trafficking is conducted online; specifically on the dark web.
“Human trafficking is the world’s fastest growing criminal enterprise worth an estimated $150 billion a year,” Reuters reports.
It is believed that more than 40 million people are currently enslaved today, many of whom are children.
Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly referred to the U.S. Attorney from the Eastern District of California as Scott McGregor. The U.S. Attorney’s name is McGregor Scott.