SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) - An 86-year-old man was found guilty Friday of attempting to travel to the Philippines to sexually molest girls, in violation of a new federal law aimed at fighting sex tourism.
A judge found John W. Seljan guilty of six counts, including attempting to travel for the purpose of having sex with minors and possession of child pornography.
Seljan faces a minimum term of 10 years in prison and a maximum of 270 years when he is sentenced in March.
The retired business owner is one of about a dozen men who have been arrested under the Protect Act, which was enacted last year. The law made it easier to prosecute those who molest children overseas and increased penalties.
Seljan was the first to go to trial on charges brought under the Protect Act, though at least two men have pleaded guilty.
His defense attorney, Allan Stokke, had argued that the government presented insufficient evidence that Seljan intended to have sex with two girls with whom he exchanged sexually explicit letters.
The lawyer said Friday he had not decided whether to appeal.
Seljan, who sat in a wheelchair during the non-jury trial, was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport, where he allegedly attempted to board a flight with child pornography, sexual aids and nearly 100 pounds of chocolate.
A federal agent testified that Seljan told investigators he had ``sexually educated'' young girls in the Philippines with their parents' consent since 1983, and that he believed it was legal and culturally accepted in that country.
Authorities said they began investigating Seljan after Customs investigators opened a letter with his name on it during a random inspection of packages destined for overseas. An agent testified that he noted the sexual nature of what appeared to be a letter to a child and notified a supervisor.
He should get the max sentence considering how long he admits having been at this...