Maui Man “Adopts” 14-year-old Thai Girl, Charged with Sexually Abusing Her in Panama
Federal Prosecutors charged Maui resident George Alexis Theros, 76, with “engaging in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign place,” after he allegedly sexually abused a 14-year-old girl from Thailand and abandoned her in Panama when he was caught.
According to the criminal complaint, besides owning several properties on Maui, Theros lists a Maui address on both his passport and Hawaiʻi State Driver’s License, which expired earlier this month.
Theros also owns a six acre fruit farm in a village in Thailand where he met the victim’s family five years ago when she was nine years old, according to the complaint. The family was Cambodian and “had trouble getting access to schools,” so Theros paid for “transportation, tuition, books and uniforms” so the victim and her older sister could go to school in Thailand the complaint said.
Eventually the victim’s parents told investigators that Theros wanted to bring the victim to Hawaiʻi “to give her a better education” the complaint said. Prosecutors said at that point the girl was “sold to Theros in adoption” and in April 2019 he took their now 14-year-old daughter to Panama in order to bring her “to Hawaiʻi aboard a boat.”
While in Panama, Theros worked as part of a boat crew and introduced the victim as his daughter documents said. However crew members discovered that Theros was “engaging in sexual conduct” with the victim and alerted law enforcement.
On July 3, 2019 law enforcement from Panama contacted Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Honolulu regarding Theros and the victim. While talking to crew members on the boat the victim said she had been sold to Theros when she was nine or 10 years old and he had been in a “sexual relationship with her since around that time” the complaint said.
After the incident Theros fled Panama and returned to Thailand according to court documents. Federal prosecutors said while he was there he continued to contact the boat crew in Panama, saying that he would like to “rejoin the crew as engineer, and, of course, I want (the victim) to accompany me,” then asked if the witnesses could “reverse their testimony” about what they saw.
Prosecutors arrested Theros when he returned to Hawaiʻi from Thailand on Tuesday (July 30, 2019). However, according to the Federal Public Defender for Theros, he may not live long enough to be prosecuted if he does not get timely medical treatment.
Assistant Federal Defender Melinda Yamaga filed yesterday for a notice of “expedited appeal of magistrate court’s order denying transport” yesterday, after Federal Magistrate Judge Keven S. Chang denied an earlier request that “U.S. Marshals . . . transport Mr. Theros, in custody, to his doctor’s appointments for his life-threatening medical condition.”
According to the motion, Theros has stage III larynx cancer and that his “airway is approximately 75% obstructed, and that there is a high risk that if his cancer is left untreated he will suffocate and die in the next one to two weeks.”
Federal documents were not available today as to what the outcome was for Theros’ request for transport.
According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO), District of Hawaiʻi, “Combating the exploitation of children is a significant enforcement priority,” and that the “prosecution is one of many by the USAO in the last 15 months to hold those who sexually exploit minors accountable.”
Last May, the USAO brought federal charges against Defendant Dustin Miyakawa for coercion and enticement of a minor, sex trafficking of children, and sexual exploitation of a child. Miyakawa pleaded guilty to coercion and enticement of a minor, and is facing a minimum term of 10 years of imprisonment when he is sentenced in October.
Twelve additional defendants—including Theros— were also charged for exploiting children according to the USAO. Eight of these defendants are charged with attempting to entice a minor to engage in sexual acts.
Three of the 12 defendants are charged with child pornography offenses. Two of them—Daniel Lyles and Justin Furr—pleaded guilty. At sentencing, both face a mandatory minimum term of five years of imprisonment.
“Our message as a law enforcement community is simple: If your goal is to sexually exploit children, we’ll do everything in our power as a federal law enforcement community to find a home for you in federal prison,” said U.S. Attorney Kenji Price.
“The sexual exploitation of children is a heinous offense, U.S. citizens traveling abroad need to be cognizant of the fact that U.S. law prohibits this activity and that U.S. law enforcement agents will work tirelessly to bring perpetrators to justice,” said John F. Tobon, Acting Special Agent in Charge for HSI Honolulu.