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Regional News

Pohnpei taxi driver sentenced for trafficking in children and exploitation

PALIKIR, Pohnpei (FSM Information Services) — On March 22, 2019, FSM Supreme Court Chief Justice Dennis Yamase sentenced William Chunn to 10 years imprisonment, and six years probation, after finding him guilty of six counts of trafficking in children and one count of exploiting a trafficked person.

During trial in February 2019, the court heard testimony of how Chunn used the taxi he was hired to drive to recruit, transport, and deliver minor girls to have sex with sailors on shore leave, and other men, on several occasions between 2015 and 2017. The court heard testimony from witnesses who explained that Chunn would charge the men a fee and then deliver minors for sex, some of the victims as young as 12 years old.

At the sentencing hearing, prosecutors from the FSM Department of Justice asked the court to give Chunn the maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and for him to pay restitution in the amount of $25,000 to each child victim.

However, the court imposed a 16-year prison term with six of the years on probation. Chunn will be released on Sundays from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. to attend church and visit his children during the duration of his incarceration. The court further ordered a total of $14,000 to be divided between the two identified child victims as restitution.

The Department of Justice is committed to cracking down on human trafficking within the FSM, particularly cases involving the exploitation of minors. Through the department’s collaboration with state organized Anti-Human Trafficking Task Forces, the issue of taxi drivers ferrying minors for sexual exploitation has become an increased concern and priority. This is the first case in the FSM involving a taxi driver taking minors to provide sexual services to fishermen. However, prosecutors are optimistic that the sentence imposed in this case will deter other taxi drivers from engaging in similar conduct. Prosecutors are also hopeful that this case, public awareness efforts, and tips to the national police will aid in the prosecution of future human trafficking cases.

Chunn was originally charged for human trafficking and trafficking in children as a co-defendant of fishing boat captain Joseph Parisi in 2017. Parisi subsequently fled the FSM in November 2018 as his trial date was approaching. The Department of Justice is currently working with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of State to locate and extradite Parisi back to the FSM to stand trial.