An American diplomat previously assigned to Manila but who has gone back to the US is the subject of a possible extradition request by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) for allegedly engaging in sex with a minor and also possessing child pornography.

Dean Edward Cheves, 61, has already been indicted by a Virginia court but the DFA said that the American is accused of an “extraditable” offense and it would pursue the request if there were no legal impediment.

A local court, however, pre-empted the DFA last week when it ordered the arrest of Cheves.

Late last week, Pasay City Regional Trial Court branch 109 under presiding Judge Christian Castaneda issued a warrant of arrest against Cheves. The court set bail at PHP200,000 (US$4,000) for each of two charges of violation of Republic Act 7610 or the Anti-Child Abuse Law and RA 9775 or the Anti-Child Pornography Act.

The case stemmed from a complaint filed by the victim’s mother. The victim is a Grade 10 student from Taguig whom the court referred to her as “Jane.”

The victim admitted to the police and the Social Welfare department that she sends her nude photos to older men, then meets them for sex. She first met Cheves in February 12 in Makati City and gave him oral sex while he was driving. They met again in February 22 and had full intercourse, which the suspect filmed without the victim’s consent.

Cheves was a member of the Foreign Service at the US embassy in Manila from September 2020 to February 2021.

The videos of his two trysts with the victim were in Cheves’ cellphone, which was seized from his embassy residence. Other devices owned by the American were found to contain child pornography videos.

While embassy officers and employees enjoy diplomatic immunity, such immunity is not absolute.

In both the US and the Philippines, sex with a minor and possession of child pornography are considered criminal offenses.

Cheves may be returned to the Philippines if he is charged with a crime by virtue of the RP-US Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty.

According to Justice Sec. Menardo Guevarra, “Mr. Cheves may be extradited to the Philippines once he is charged under any or all” Philippine laws such as the Anti-Child Abuse Act, Anti-Child Pornography Act, Anti-Human Trafficking Law, and the Revised Penal Code.

The American may be held criminally as well as civilly liable, Guevarra added.

In the US, the suspect was indicted by a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia last August 3 for engaging in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign place and possession of child pornography.

Court documents said he met the girl online and engaged in sexual activity with her on two occasions. He took videos of their encounters both times. Cheves was also found to be in possession of child pornography in February and March, this year.

Eduardo Meñez, Foreign Affairs assistant secretary for strategic communications, said a committee has been formed, headed by the Justice secretary. That committee will determine if the offenses Cheves is accused of are considered extraditable. If the committee deems this to be the case, the DFA, acting on behalf of the victim, will submit an extradition request to the US. Cheves is likely to face charges of child abuse, according to Guevarra.

Meñez told local media that “If the committee determines the offense to be extraditable and in favor of the victim, then DFA will request, but it is up to the foreign government to decide if they wish to have their national extradited.”

He said there were “legal details” that needed to be clarified, “including the extent of immunity and if it extends beyond retirement.”

The order of the Pasay City court may be used as a supporting document to be submitted to the US Justice department as evidence against Cheves.

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