PITTSBURGH, PA – A former Virginia resident has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh on charges of Travel With Intent to Engage in Illicit Sexual Conduct, Transportation With Intent to Engage in Criminal Sexual Activity, and Obstruction of Justice—Hindering Communication Through Corrupt Persuasion, Acting United States Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman announced today.
The three-count Indictment, returned on March 9, 2021 and unsealed today, named Apipat Vutipawat, also known as “Viktor Vutipawat,” “Viktor Koi,” “Arty Freedom,” and “Victor Kim,” age 27, of Alexandria, Virginia, as the sole defendant.
According to the Indictment, from May 29, 2020 through June 2, 2020, Vutipawat travelled in interstate commerce with the purpose of engaging in any illicit sexual conduct with Minor A and transported Minor A, a person who had not yet attained the age of 18 years, from Pennsylvania to Virginia with the intent that Minor A engage in criminal sexual activity. The grand jury further charges that from May 29, 2020 through June 2, 2020, Vutipawat knowingly corrupted and persuaded Minor A with the intent to hinder, delay, or prevent the communication to a law enforcement officer of information relating to the commission or possible commission of a Federal offense.
“Combatting child sexual exploitation is one of our highest priorities.” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kaufman. “We will continue our targeted law enforcement strategies to identify and prosecute sexual predators, especially those who travel across state lines intent on harming children.”
“The sexual exploitation of children is a heinous offense,” said James D. Abbate, Assistant Special Agent in Charge for Homeland Security Investigations Pittsburgh. “I commend the dedicated work of our agents and law enforcement partners. Together we were able to serve one of the most important roles of law enforcement – protecting our children.”
The law provides for a maximum total sentence of not less than ten years in prison and not more than life, a fine of $750,000 or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
Assistant United States Attorney Heidi M. Grogan is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
Homeland Security Investigations-Pittsburgh, Homeland Security Investigations-York, Homeland Security Investigations-DC, Pennsylvania State Police, North Strabane Township Police Department, and the Fairfax County Police (Virginia) conducted the investigation leading to the Indictment in this case.
An Indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States 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 sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.