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Former Marine convicted of child sex charges

Another sex abuse case abroad involving drugging, beating and raping children. This one, however, has an American twist, as a former Marine is found guilty under a federal law that targets those who go overseas for "child sex tourism". 

Michael Joseph Pepe, a former United States Marine Captain, moved to Cambodia five years ago, where he was married and worked as a teacher. On Thursday, the 54-year-old was convicted of tying up, beating and raping young girls between the ages of 9 to 12 in what was called illicit sexual conduct in foreign places.

In 2006, Pepe was arrested by Cambodian police, where it was alleged that he had "raped seven preteen girls at his Phnom Penh home beginning in the late fall of 2005". Six girls testified against Pepe and prosecutors described how he would force the girls to give him massages and and oral sex upon arrival from school.

The girls were brought to him through a prostitute, whom Pepe paid a "finder's fee". Pepe also supposedly paid the families of the victims:

He also paid the young girls' families a fee and monthly stipend for access to the girls for sexual gratification, prosecutors said. In one case, the prostitute admitted receiving $10 for finding a young girl, whose family received $300, prosecutors said.

A search of Pepe's home turned up mind-altering drugs, articles related to pedophiles, ropes and cloth strips for restraining the victims, Viagra, images of nude and semi-nude children, some bound and performing sex acts.

The former Marine, turned child teacher faces up to 210 years in prison when he is sentenced in September. Pepe still maintains his innocence, claiming the assaults on the young girls were committed by a prostitute and her boyfriend. 

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