Lynn, MA – An American man was indicted today in connection with exploiting teenage boys in Laos. The Defendant taught English and provided housing to Laotian youth
Michael Sebastian, 52, was indicted on three counts of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places and three counts of sex trafficking of children. Sebastian was charged by criminal complaint and arrested on July 7, 2020 in Lynn, Massachusetts. Sebastian was released on conditions including home incarceration in Ashby following a detention hearing on July 31, 2020.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling of the District of Massachusetts, and Special Agent in Charge Joseph R. Bonavolonta of the FBI’s Boston Field Office made the announcement.
According to the charging documents, Sebastian was living in Laos, where he taught English to Laotian youth. During at least the past two years, Sebastian provided housing to at least three boys, aged 13 to 18, to whom he taught English. In lieu of paying rent to live with him, Sebastian allegedly allowed the boys to pay off their rent by performing chores. According to the charging documents, these chores included giving Sebastian massages – which, in turn, included masturbating Sebastian.
The FBI’s Washington D.C. Field Office and the Bangkok, Thailand Field Office provided assistance with the investigation. Trial Attorney Leslie Fisher of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Anne Paruti, U.S. Attorney Lelling’s Project Safe Childhood Coordinator, are prosecuting the case.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice. Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.
Photo by S. Berger.