OKC Attorney Pleads Guilty in Sex Tourism Case13-Nov-2015
In 2013, and Oklahoma City area attorney was accused of traveling with an Ada bail bondsman to Peru in order to have sex with underage girls. The allegations came after investigators received a tip and Peruvian police found the two men in a hotel room with a 13-year-old and 17-year-old girl. Police reportedly found Victoria's Secret bags containing extra small lingerie and condoms, lubricant, Viagra, cash, and candy in the room.
Federal prosecutors say Michael Dean Billings and Robert Pierce have traveled to Iquitos, Peru, a reputed child sex trafficking destination, nearly 40 times in the last several years.
However, since his arrest, Billings has claimed his innocence, saying one of the girls was the daughter of Pierce's ex-fiancee, and the other was one of her friends. He said Pierce was simply taking them out to dinner, and he explained the items found in the room by saying that his travel companion was a "single guy" and the items were intended for use with adult women.
Billings allegedly told investigators that the allegations were trumped up by an informant with a personal vendetta.
Despite his protestations of innocence, Billings was indicted on three counts: conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of children, conspiracy to travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct, and conspiracy to engage in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places.
Now, after two years of claiming his innocence, Billings pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court to a single count of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places. He admitted in court that between 2011 and 2013, he traveled to Peru, where he paid money to have sex with a 16-year-old girl. As a result of his plea, prosecutors have agreed to drop the other two charges against him and will not charge him with similar crimes related to the case.
Billings was placed in federal custody. He will be sentenced within 60 days of the judge's receipt of a pre-sentencing report. He faces up to 30 years in prison and lifetime sex offender registration. His attorney says that he surrendered his bar license.
Billings' alleged co-conspirator, Robert Pierce, has not yet been charged in the case, and the investigation is ongoing.
Traveling to a foreign country to engage in sex with minors or commercial sex with minors is a violation of federal law, even if the practice of child prostitution or child sex trafficking is legal in the destination country.
According to 18 U.S. Code § 2423, the United States government will prosecute the following acts:
- Transporting a minor under the age of 18 for the purpose of child prostitution or participation in a criminal sex act
- Traveling into or out of the United States with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct, defined as sex with a minor under 18, commercial sex with a minor under 18, or production of child pornography
- Engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places
- Arranging, inducing, procuring, or facilitating travel for a person intending to engage in illicit sexual conduct with minors
Traveling with intent to engage in illicit sex acts with minors and ancillary offenses related to the facilitation of these acts are punishable by a maximum of 30 years in prison. Transporting a minor for child prostitution or commercial sex acts is punishable by 10 years to life.
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