APPEALS COURT UPHOLDS PROVISION OF SEXUAL TOURISM
By Julia Cheever, Bay City News
January 25, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - A federal appeals
court in San Francisco today upheld a U.S. law that makes it a
crime to travel to a foreign country and engage in sex with children
A panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
said by a 2-1 vote that the law is within Congress's power to
regulate foreign commerce under the Commerce Clause of the U.S.
The ruling was made in the case of a Washington
state man, Michael Lewis Clark, 71, who was convicted of violating
the law by paying young boys for sex in Cambodia in 2003.
The court upheld Clark's conviction and rejected
his argument that the law exceeded Congress's powers.
Circuit Judge Margaret McKeown wrote, "In light
of Congress's sweeping powers over foreign commerce, we conclude
that Congress acted within its constitutional bounds in criminalizing
commercial sex acts committed by U.S. citizens who travel abroad
in foreign commerce."
The Commerce Clause gives Congress the power to
"regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several
states, and with the Indian tribes."
The law under which Clark was convicted is part
of a set of recent federal measures originally referred as the
sexual tourism law but known since 2003 as the PROTECT Act, short
for Prosecutorial Remedies and Other Tools to End the Exploitation
of Children Today Act.
A San Francisco financier, Thomas White, 70, currently
faces charges in federal court in San Francisco under another
provision of the act.
White is accused of conspiring to travel to Mexico between 1999
and 2001 and to Thailand between 2000 and 2003 with the intent
to engage in unlawful sexual acts with juveniles.
The law under which White is charged differs from the one upheld
today in that it requires proof of traveling with intent to engage
in illegal sexual acts, but does not require proof of a commercial
That law was upheld in another case in 2003 by a federal appeals
court in New Orleans, which found that the measure was within
Congress's commerce powers.
White was also separately charged in Mexico with sexually abusing
eight boys near his villa in Puerto Vallarta.
Stuart Hanlon, a lawyer for White, said the financier is currently
on trial in Puerto Vallarta on one charge of raping a boy. Hanlon
said that other Mexican charges of corrupting youths have been
Hanlon said he did not know whether or when White will be extradited
to the United States or when his U.S. trial would be held. Federal
prosecutors in San Francisco have previously said they plan to
seek White's extradition.
White was indicted by a federal grand jury in San Francisco in
2004 while he was in prison in Thailand fighting extradition to
Mexico. He was arrested in Thailand in 2003 at the request of
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