US court indicts diplomat for illicit sexual conduct in PHL

THE US EMBASSY in Manila

VIRGINIA/MANILA – A federal grand jury at the Eastern District of Virginia in the United States has indicted an American diplomat previously posted in Manila for engaging in illicit sexual conduct in the Philippines and possession of child pornography.

The US Department of Justice said Dean Cheves, 61, served at the US Embassy in Manila between September 2020 and February 2021.

“While in the Philippines, Cheves allegedly met a 16-year-old online. Court documents further detail that Cheves allegedly engaged in sexual activity with the minor on two occasions, knowing the minor’s age, and produced cell phone videos of himself engaging in the sex acts each time,” the US DOJ said in an Aug. 3 statement.

The videos were reportedly found on Cheves’ devices seized from his embassy residence while in the Philippines. Between February 2021 and March 2021, he also allegedly possessed child pornography.

Cheves is charged with one count of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign place and one count of possessing child pornography in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the US or on lands owned or leased by the US.

Cheves made his initial court appearance on July 6, 2021 before US Magistrate Judge Ivan Davis of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

If convicted, the US DOJ said he faces a maximum penalty of up to 30 years in prison on count one and up to 10 years in prison on count two.

A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the US Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. Currently, the Diplomatic Security Service, Office of Special Investigations is investigating the case.

The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a US initiative launched in May 2006 to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.

Led by US Attorneys’ Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.