Courts & Crime

Cambodia expels accused child molester to face U.S. charges

Notorious child molester Jack Louis Sporich is in federal custody and being returned by plane from a Cambodian jail to face charges in the United States.

Sporich, who is believed to have molested more than 500 young boys since the 1960s, faces a criminal complaint of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places and is being returned to this country under the auspices of "Operation Twisted Traveler," an international law enforcement effort aimed at pedophiles who travel as "sex tourists."

Thom Mrozek, spokesman for U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O'Brien in Los Angeles, said Sporich was expelled from Cambodia and is being escorted back to this country by immigration officials. He will formally be taken into U.S. custody when he arrives in Los Angeles this afternoon.

Sporich, 75, is a wealthy former engineer who prosecutors have said has been molesting children since he lived in Illinois in the 1960s. He was convicted in Ventura County of seven counts of molestation and spent nine years in prison before being sent to the Atascadero State Hospital as a "sexually violent predator."

Sporich, who was the focus of a 2006 Bee series on the failings of California's efforts to treat such predators, refused treatment at the hospital and won release in May 2004 after two juries were unable to agree on whether he might reoffend.

He settled into retirement in an upscale Sedona, Ariz., condo until 2006, when he was visited by Bee reporters and insisted in an interview that he was not a threat to anyone. He left Arizona after that and moved to Cambodia, where federal court documents state he spent $1.2 million building a home near the tourist destination of Siem Reap. He also became engaged to a 22-year-old Cambodian woman

Sporich was arrested Feb. 2 after an investigation by a local agency -- Action Pour Les Enfants-Cambodia -- alleged that he had lured three Cambodian boys aged 9 to 12 to his home with toys and candies. Court documents state that he also attracted them by dropping Cambodian currency in the street as he rode along the streets on a motor bike.

Sporich, who likely would have faced a sentence of one to three years under Cambodian law, remained in custody in Cambodia while authorities worked to bring him back to this country.

A criminal complaint filed in federal court in Los Angeles in April detailed Sporich's years of travel to Asia. He had boasted of his trips and his photo hobby in the interview with The Bee, and in his living room he had a photo he had taken of a young boy with his pants down urinating into a river from a bridge.

Law enforcement interviews with the alleged victims of Sporich indicated the boys referred to him as "Dad" and that he performed sex acts on them and bathed with them, federal documents indicate.

Sporich claimed in an interview with authorities that Cambodian police were "corrupt" and that the accusations against him were lies made up by the boys, documents indicate.

Sporich "stated he had done nothing wrong" but said he had taken showers with at least one boy, documents state.