An Australian man who has already been sentenced to life in the Philippines for human trafficking and rape has been given an additional sentence of 129 years for sexually abusing children as young as 18 months, prosecutors said.
Peter Gerard Scully, his Filipino girlfriend Lezyl Margallo and two accomplices were charged with 60 crimes, including child abuse, human trafficking, rape and distributing child pornography, Merlynn Barola-Uy, a prosecutor in the southern city of Cagayan de Oro, told CNN on Wednesday.
Margallo was sentenced to 126 years in prison, while the two accomplices each received nine years in prison.
All four were convicted on Nov. 3 after entering into a plea deal, said Barola-Uy, who described the convictions as a “sweet victory.”
“The survivors of the victim and their families, along with the prosecution’s team, have been consistent since day one in their decision to fight Peter Scully and defeat every (delay) tactic he used,” the prosecutor said.
“They all want to end this dark phase of their lives and move on,” Barola-Uy added.
The facts date back to 2012 and are among dozens of charges filed against Scully after his arrest in 2015.
In 2018, the Australian and his former live-in partner Carme Ann Alvarez were sentenced to life imprisonment for human trafficking and rape in six cases involving seven children – one of whom was killed and buried in one of the couple’s rental properties in Surigao City. according to the state-run Philippine News Agency (PNA).
The cases against Scully have highlighted the Philippines’ ongoing fight against the online sexual exploitation of children.
In 2020, a report by the Washington-based International Justice Mission described the Philippines as a global dark place for online sexual abuse, saying that young people were vulnerable because of a combination of entrenched poverty, high internet connectivity and opaque international money transfer systems.
Two years later, a study by UNICEF, Interpol and ECPAT International, a global network of organizations against child sexual exploitation, found that about 20% of Filipino children who used the Internet and were between the ages of 12 and 17 had some form of of online sexual abuse.
In August, cabinet members of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. at a press conference that the country had declared “total war” on the sexual exploitation of children online.
Justice Minister Jesus Crispin Remulla pledged at the conference to prosecute and jail people who sexually exploit minors online, but did not specify how the law and its enforcement could be strengthened.