Sunday November 23, 2014

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Quebec man, 82, faces child-sex charges after being nabbed in Dominican Republic

MONTREAL - An 82-year-old Quebecer facing sex charges involving the alleged abuse of two girls under the age of 14 in the Dominican Republic will remain behind bars.

Joseph-Charles-Philippe Cote was arrested in the island nation this week and formally charged in Montreal on Friday.

The seven charges include importation, possession and production of juvenile pornography, invitation to sexual contact and having sexual contact with minors.

The charges stem from events alleged to have taken place between 2003 and last October.

That's when Cote was originally placed under investigation after he was initially flagged during a search by the Canada Border Services Agency.

"We intercepted this individual last October (when) he came back from a trip from the Dominican Republic," said agency spokesman Dominique McNeely.

"He arrived (back in Canada) on October 17th and we screened his laptop."

McNeely said that when agents found pictures, they transferred the case to provincial police who executed a search warrant and allegedly found hundreds of pictures of children on a computer.

Cote had been the subject of a Canada-wide arrest warrant since Feb. 8.

Cote's lawyer, Charles Benmouyal, said he requested a delay in the case to go over computer evidence and images that have been analyzed by police.

A local report in the Dominican Republic said Cote was nabbed in the resort town of Sosua, in the Puerto Plata region of the country.

Police say the Montreal resident travelled frequently to the Dominican Republic and allege the primary reason was to sexually exploit children.

"They are acts that have principally been committed in the Dominican Republic, but the evidence (I've received) is incomplete and I can't go any further," Benmouyal said.

Cote asked through his lawyer that he get certain medication while in detention.

"No one is happy to be jailed for any reason so I'll let you draw your own conclusions about how he feels today," Benmouyal said, adding the priority now is to examine the evidence and get a legal opinion as to whether he can be freed pending trial.

Crown prosecutor Rachelle Pitre said that even if the allegations stem from the Dominican, a provision in the Criminal Code allows for people charged with sexual offences against children to be tried here.

Pitre said she couldn't say much more.

"The Crown opposes his bail and a hearing will be held in the days or weeks to come," she said.

Cote's next court appearance is set for March 7.

Various international agencies have highlighted rampant child-sex trafficking in the Dominican Republic.

''Child-sex tourism is a problem, particularly in coastal resort areas of the Dominican Republic, with child-sex tourists arriving year-round from the United States and European countries," said a U.S. State Department report from last year.


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