Sun, Sep 26, 2004 - Page 7 News List

HIV-positive child pornographer gets 100 years in prison

AP , MIAMI

An HIV-positive man was sentenced to 100 years in prison for recording his sex acts with at least 120 children in Cuba and Ecuador, then distributing the videotapes and CDs to customers in the US.

Angel Rafael Mariscal was found guilty in April of producing, importing and selling child pornography. Judge Cecilia Altonaga said Friday his crimes were so reprehensible "that it gravitates at or near the bottom rung of human behavior."

She said Mariscal, 45, was able to "perfect the business" as actor, producer and distributor by preying on poor children on his regular travels to foreign countries.

Investigators said he charged customers as much as US$975 for custom-made videos.

The judge watched excerpts from about 10 tapes as a pediatrician with expertise in child abuse estimated eight victims were under age 12, and 13 more were under 16.

"It was difficult to watch," she said.

Investigators believe Mariscal was in the child pornography business for 10 years.

He was arrested in September 2002 in Miami Beach following a mail-order sting and the discovery of a storage facility filled with videotapes, customer lists and photographic equipment.

The Cuban government, co-operating with US investigators, tracked down nine victims using still images lifted from tapes and disks; Ecuador identified three victims.

Cuba prosecuted three women and a man who helped recruit girls and boys for the illicit productions.

None of the 12 children already tracked down have initially tested positive for HIV.

Pleading for a shorter sentence, Mariscal said that he did not have much longer to live because he tested positive for HIV in 1994.

He said that he had become a sex addict after arriving in the US in 1980.

He blamed easy access to pornographic materials in New York's Times Square.

"I am not a freak of nature. I'm just an average guy," he said.

"Addiction to pornography is not something society is willing to accept," he said.

He said he now knows how damaging his addiction was.

"When I was engaged in sexual activity with these girls, I really thought I was somehow helping them," he said. "I knew it was illegal. I didn't think it was wrong."

Mariscal's defense attorney, David Hodge, said that his client would appeal.

But Hodge acknowledged that: "It's a horrible crime. It's a sad crime."

This story has been viewed 2887 times.

Comments will be moderated. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned.

TOP top