AN American has been sentenced to 50 years in prison for inducing and enticing a 14-year-old girl from the Philippines to engage in and produce images of sexually explicit conduct via Facebook.
Calvin Bernhardt, 54, of Tuttle, North Dakota, was found guilty after a nearly four-day trial in October 2016.
He was convicted of attempted sexual exploitation of a minor, attempted receipt of materials depicting the sexual exploitation of a minor, counterfeit currency, tampering with witness or evidence and attempted travel with intent to engage in sexual acts with a minor.
“This is a result of the joint effort by NBI, PDOJ, DSWD and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and it offers an example of what can be achieved through excellent cooperation between Philippine and US law enforcement organizations,” the United States Embassy in Manila said.
NBI is the Philippine National Bureau of Investigation, PDOJ the Philippine Department of Justice and DSWD the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Evidence presented at the trial demonstrated that, from September 2015 to March 2016, Bernhardt persuaded the minor to send him sexually explicit or sadistic and masochistic images, according to a news release issued by the US Department of Justice.
It said communications between Bernhardt and the victim further revealed that the American was attempting to arrange a meeting with the minor in a hotel in the Philippines with the intent of engaging in sexual acts with her.
In March 2016, a federal search warrant was executed on Bernhardt’s property.
He was released pending trial but was later rearrested after he contacted the girl’s mother and instructed her to destroy evidence and not cooperate with law enforcers.
Joint efforts of authorities from the Philippines and the US located and rescued the victim in May 2016, and assisted her travel to Washington to personally testify at trial.
“The courage of the victim, her willingness to testify, to tell the truth and not to be intimidated by the defendant was compelling. With this conviction, Bernhardt will not harm anyone anymore,” said Ransom Avilla, attaché for the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement HSI at the US Embassy.
MICHAEL JOE T. DELIZO