- By Louella Losinio
Taxi driver gets 10 years in sex trafficking case
The Federated States of Micronesia Supreme Court handed judgment in a landmark human trafficking case involving a taxi driver who took minors to provide sexual services to fishermen.
The issue of taxi drivers ferrying minors for sexual exploitation has become a concern and priority for the FSM Department of Justice, according to a release. This is the first prosecuted case of a taxi driver involved in human trafficking in the FSM.
FSM Supreme Court Chief Justice Dennis Yamase sentenced William Chunn on March 22 to 10 years imprisonment, and six years probation, after finding him guilty of six counts of trafficking in children and one count of exploiting a trafficked person.
Chunn was a codefendant in a 2017 human trafficking and trafficking in children case against Captain Joseph Parisi, an American who fled from the FSM while awaiting trial. According to a release from the FSM government, the Department of Justice is working with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of State to locate and extradite Parisi back to the FSM to stand trial.
Between 2015 and 2017, Chunn used the taxi he was hired to drive "to recruit, transport, and deliver minor girls to have sex with sailors on shore leave, and other men, on several occasions," according to court testimony.
Witnesses said Chunn would charge the men a fee and then deliver the minors for sex. Some of the victims were as young as 12 years old, according to reports.
The FSM Department of Justice prosecutors recommended stiffer penalties for the defendant. The prosecution wanted Chunn to serve a maximum 30-year sentence in prison and to pay a $25,000 restitution to the child victims. In the final sentence, the court ordered the defendant to pay $14,000, to be divided between the two identified child victims.
The court also enforced other conditions upon sentencing. The court allowed Chunn to be released at certain hours on Sundays to attend church and visit his children during the duration of his incarceration.
"Witnesses said Chunn would charge the men a fee and then deliver the minors for sex. Some of the victims were as young as 12 years old, according to reports."
The U.S. State Department, in the 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report, placed the FSM under Tier 2. This means that the FSM government “does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so.”
According to the report, the FSM is a “source, transit and, to a lesser extent, destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking.”
Groups most vulnerable to trafficking in the FSM include foreign migrant workers, especially from the Philippines, and Micronesian women in prostitution. Women and girls are allegedly exploited in sex trafficking by the crewmembers of docked Asian fishing vessels, on vessels in FSM territorial waters, or with foreign construction workers, according to the report .