Australian pleads not guilty to child rape in the Philippines

Image source eni

Image source eni

An Australian man pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to raping and trafficking two girls in the Philippines, as he faced a separate investigation for murder and other sex offences, court officials said.

Wearing a yellow prison shirt, steel-rimmed glasses and handcuffs, Gerard Peter Scully, 51, puffed on a cigarette before calmly saying “not guilty” as the charges were read to him at an improvised courtroom in the port of Cagayan de Oro.

Philippine police accuse Scully of repeatedly raping the two teenage girls, who were found naked and chained in his apartment bedroom in the southern port last year.

He is on trial for five counts of rape and one of human trafficking and faces life in prison if convicted of any of the charges. He will remain in custody.

Scully is also under investigation, but not been charged, over the rape of an 18-month-old baby girl and the rape and murder of a 12-year-old girl.

Police said they found the 12-year-old’s remains in February, buried beneath the kitchen of a separate apartment also rented by Scully in the southern city of Surigao.

Scully was arrested in the same month in Malaybalay, another southern Philippine city.

Scully, reported in Australian media as a native of Melbourne, fled to the Philippines from Australia in 2011 after he was charged with fraud, according to Philippine investigators.

He then set up a cybersex business, filming girls aged 12 to 18 from impoverished families as he had sex with them or used sex toys, the investigators added.

The videos were allegedly sold to customers in Germany, the United States and Brazil.

Philippine police also said he is under a separate criminal investigation in the Netherlands over fraud.

Scully was among a busload of detainees charged with various offences who were roped into a makeshift courthouse on the foundations of a government building under construction with no walls, an AFP photographer saw, since no other court was available.

The Philippines has become a key hub of a billion-dollar, global child cybersex industry, police warned last year, with operators helped by widespread poverty.

Most people who pay to view the sex videos are from the United States and Europe, with potentially thousands of children being abused, often with their parents’ consent, authorities said.

Last week, Filipino police freed eight children from a house in Manila where they were allegedly sold for prostitution and forced to have sex for an online audience. Two people, including the mother of one of the children, were arrested.

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