Charges against a Senior Canadian Citizen over Sex Tourism

Police have laid sex tourism charges against a Toronto senior for the first time under a little-used section of Canadian law.
Investigators say they got permission from the Attorney General to charge the 78-year-old man with offences allegedly committed in Cuba.
James McTurk was initially arrested last July and charged with possessing, accessing and importing child pornography at his home.

Police have laid sex tourism charges against a Toronto senior for the first time under a little-used section of Canadian law.

Detective Sgt. Kim Gross with Toronto Police discusses allegations against a Toronto man.
Now, he’s facing new charges that include making child pornography, invitation to sexual touching, committing an indecent act, and six counts of sexual interference.
Police allege those offences were committed in Cuba between June 2011 and July 2012.
Det. Sgt. Kim Gross said investigators found photographs allegedly of young children with the accused.
Police say McTurk visited Cuba 31 times between 2008 and 2012.
He is scheduled to appear in court Monday.
Since 1997, Canada’s Criminal Code has specifically prohibited child sex tourism. Canadian citizens and permanent residents who are accused of engaging in sexual activity with children abroad can be charged and prosecuted in Canada.
With a report from W5’s Victor Malarek

World’s oldest profession, Dubai-style

World’s oldest profession, Dubai-style

DUBAI, UAE (eTN) – The queuing starts early at the club located on the bottom floor of one of Dubai’s numerous five-star hotels. Men of all ages and nationalities pace impatiently as they wait for someone to leave the club so they can get the nod from the bouncer to enter.

But this is no ordinary club and these men are not here for the music blaring from speakers or the expensive drinks on offer at the bar. They are here for the women.

It’s dark and smoky inside, even a little cramped, and one is forced to negotiate the crush of people just to get to the bar. The lucky few sit in the reserved booths drinking whiskey and champagne, while the rest lean up against the bar and walls.

Girls from all over the world line the walls, drape themselves in booths or just stare blankly into space as they await the clientele.

Kelly from China is one such girl. She claims to have lived in the Emirate for the past eight months and before that worked in Singapore and Hong Kong. It’s the money to be made in Dubai that brought her here, she says, and it’s not long before she is being asked by a prospective client just how much an evening would cost. At around 1,300 aed or US$400, it’s not difficult to understand why she returns to the bar night after night.

At first glance these clubs at some of the city’s most expensive hotels that cater for the many visiting businessmen, expats and locals looking to pick someone up for the evening do not appear to be much unlike bars around the world.

But one begins to notice the difference as the women start to arrive and one by one their paperwork, which includes a copy of their visa, is scrutinized. This seems to be the pivotal legal issue in Dubai. Strangely enough the management seems only concerned with this and that the girls be modestly covered up so as not show too much cleavage.

In the very same hotel one needs only take a quick ride in the elevator to visit the self-styled jazz bar that caters to a more sophisticated clientele. It’s a slow night and so the three Turkish women sitting at the bar are willing to talk a little. The most talkative of the three, Sarah (not her real name) says that she has been coming to Dubai on a regular basis for over seven years but spends part of the year back in Turkey, returning to Dubai to make money.

“The most important thing is to have the right documents. I have no problem with a visa and even have a residency card. I have a partner visa through my husband, although we are separated now,” she explains.

Sarah is at the high end of the scale asking in the region of 2,000 aed per night (about $600), and according to her there is no shortage of takers. Her friends agree and point out that it’s especially Australian, Canadian and local men who seem to be the most willing to spend their money.

“The men with the money come upstairs and because we pay a fee to be able to sit up here we can make sure that there are fewer girls to compete with and it’s only the best who are up here,” says Sarah.

A brisk 10-minute walk from the hotel and you are in one of the older, less glitzy parts of Dubai. The street is filled with take-out restaurants, two- and three-star hotels and vacant lots where men play either soccer or cricket late into the night. It’s at one of these lots that the streetwalkers of Dubai can be found.

A mixture of predominantly Asian and African woman stand grouped together around the lot leaning up against the cinder blocks and smiling coyly at the passing men. The smile is inevitably followed up by the question, “Where are you from?” and then the offer of a massage with a price to be negotiated. This is in the region of 200 to 300 aed depending on the girl and her negotiating skills.

Mary is from Nigeria. She has been in Dubai for only six weeks having entered the country on a one-month tourist visa before making the trip to Oman to renew it. She is blunt about what she is doing while she is here, “I am hustling just like all the other girls on the street.”

According to Mary, this is her second time in Dubai. Less than two years ago she spent eight months in the Emirate working as a receptionist but the cost of living versus her salary was in her opinion not viable.

“They gave me a place to stay but it was like a prison camp, we had to be inside by 12pm every night and where not allowed guests. And even with company accommodation I could not save money to send home after paying my expenses. This is not living.”

Mary now shares an apartment with four other girls and says that helps her save as much of her earnings as she can to put towards her masters degree in marketing.

“Many of the girls hustling here are graduates who can’t find work in their countries, and any work they find here does not pay enough, so they do this,” Mary says.

The marketing background comes to the fore when she discusses the clientele and the number of local men who visit the girls.

“They say that Dubai men do not do this sort of thing but I see them here late at night. The truth is that if they did not use us then we would not be here. It’s simply supply and demand,” she laughs.

Amongst the woman I spoke with one thing was clear: the girls who were in the highest demand were Arabic girls. Generally these women come from Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, but they are rarely seen in hotels or on the streets.

“They are working but they dress traditionally so as not to get noticed. They will walk past a slow moving car and drop a slip of paper with their number through the window and then the man will phone later and they will arrange things,” claims Mary.

Dubai’s issues with prostitution are well documented, with the government closing down some of the most notorious venues over the past few years. Yet, according to the ladies back at the hotel, they have not experienced any sort of police scrutiny.

“We have no problems. As long as your visa is right nothing can stop you from sitting up here and having a drink; the police do not bother us,” says Sarah.

Things are not as easy for Mary and her friends on the street.

“The police do come here and if they catch you then they take you to jail and then deport you. Sometimes a man will come along and ask you to get in the car, but once you are inside he will drive you straight to the police station.”

She goes on to say that all tastes are catered for and claims that there are even two men who work along the very same street, and although not around this evening, they do a regular and brisk trade.

Moments later the girls around us begin to scatter and run across the street as a police SUV parks itself squarely on the lot where it proceeds to sit for the next five minutes. It’s not too long after the police leave before the girls begin to drift back, and very soon its business as usual.

Not all the woman working as prostitutes in Dubai do so out of choice, and while the figures are vague, anecdotal evidence supplied by volunteers working with trafficked women suggest up to half of all the woman trafficked into and through Dubai could end up being forced into prostitution.

A major issue is that the visa holder or sponsor retains the rights to the woman and so even if she escapes and seeks help, the trafficker is able to claim that he had no idea that this was going on or that the woman is lying, and so it is the woman who is often arrested, jailed and inevitably deported,” explains one such volunteer, who asked not to be named.

To get an idea of the numbers, one only has to look at the U.S. State Department report on human trafficking, which has estimated that in the region of 10,000 women from sub Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe, South and East Asia, Iran, Iraq and Morocco may be victims of sex trafficking in the UAE. In reality, this number is probably much higher.

There is no doubt the UAE, and Dubai in particular, is a modern-day success story rising as it has from humble fishing villages to modern cities with a multicultural society. Many affluent expatriates relocate to the region not only for the financial reward but also for the remarkably crime-free lifestyle.

Yet one must ask, why in a country that has recently undergone much scrutiny regarding its laws governing public displays of affection, does prostitution continue to take place with barely concealed contempt through all strata of society?

Prostitution is nothing new and it’s hardly remarkable even in Dubai. The women who choose to work in this business are well aware of the dangers of their profession but are as equally aware of the relatively large amounts of money to be made: money they use to fund graduate studies, support their families or simply spoil their children.

As Sarah remarked: “My son is 13 and lives with my family back home. But I think I will bring him to Dubai for Christmas. He will like it here.”

Asian girls harmed by Canadian sex tourists find refuge, but abuses

VANCOUVER — At a non-nondescript, discreet compound in Cambodia, young girls form an orderly queue to be served noodles in the NewSong centre.

Routine lapses when the newest among them, a seven-year-old nicknamed Srey, barges past the line, grabs fistfuls of the slippery food and bolts out the door. She’s spotted in the backyard, furtively stuffing her face like an animal.

Her adult caregivers don’t bat an eye. It’s one of the child’s first meals since being rescued from a backstreet brothel where she was forced into sex with adult men — many of them westerners and almost certainly Canadians among them.

PHOTOS

Sex tourism

A young girl at a sanctuary for children rescued from a Cambodian brothels writes a letter of forgiveness to her mother, who knowingly sold her to be sexually abused, in a photo released by Ratanak International. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Sex trade in Cambodia

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton shares a laugh with a group of girls from the Siem Reap Center, a shelter run by AFSEIP that provides rehabilitation, vocational training, and social reintegration for sex trafficking victims in Siem Reap, Cambodia, on Sunday, Oct. 31, 2010. (AP / Evan Vucci)

“When she wasn’t actually being abused by customers, they kept her chained below a table,” said Brian McConaghy, the Vancouver-based former Mountie and co-founder of the rehabilitation centre for sexually abused and exploited girls.

The brothel owners would scrape their leftovers onto the floor when they were done eating. Srey’s every meal was a competition with their dogs.

“Every scrap of food she ever got, she fought for,” McConaghy said.

In early January, McConaghy will fly again to the Southeast Asian country for a post-Christmas visit with the NewSong girls, including now ten-year-old Srey and several teens who were the victims of Canada’s first prosecuted child sex tourist, Donald Bakker.

The Vancouver man was arrested nearly a decade ago, largely as a result of the then-RCMP forensics investigator McConaghy, who had unique know-how from running a Cambodian medical charity. Each time he returns to the sanctuary, which he set-up after leaving the police force to devote himself to victims, he sees tell-tale signs indicating Canadians are still committing “grotesque” crimes against the country’s most defenceless.

Such predators travel abroad to have sex with children because they believe themselves immune to consequences, and critics argue Canada’s record doesn’t contradict the notion: Only five men have been punished under Canadian laws against child sex tourism over the past 15 years.

McConaghy and other children’s advocates — including politicians, senators and frontline police officers — want more Canadians prosecuted. Yet despite the federal Conservatives’ tough-on-crime approach, the laws’ infrequent use appears unlikely to rise quickly. Domestic problems remain highest on the public radar, and there’s only a finite envelope of money available for policing.

Awareness of the true horrors inflicted is low and almost beyond comprehension, the advocates say, resulting in little social momentum to trigger a complaints-driven system that would compel police to get more aggressive.

It’s a massive challenge that’s prompted those calling for change to take their own small steps, while allies like on-the-ground officers are left to tackle the stomach-turning scourge with the best they can muster.

Winnipeg Tory MP Joy Smith has been propelling the legislation that helps police go after bad guys abroad ever since she watched her police officer son’s hair turn “grey literally overnight” while working in Manitoba’s child exploitation unit.

“No, absolutely not,” is her reply when asked whether the quantity of child sex tourist prosecutions has been enough. “Nobody ever really believed this happened, that Canadians went to other countries.”

She urged more “proactive” measures, noting she herself has had to take one step at a time because it’s impossible to divorce action from economic realities.

“We have to do it in such a way that we have it out there every day and we do something every day,” she said.

Options she said merit consideration include seizing passports from child predators so they can’t travel, designating funding solely for child sex tourism investigations and “targeting the market,” by creating stricter mechanisms to specifically take down those who want to buy sex. That would include registering child-sex customers, educating about how they operate and teaching police about what really happens to victims, so blame is actually put on perpetrators.

About 38 countries have laws allowing authorities to hunt their own citizens for crimes committed away from home.

Canada’s sex-tourism law, with seven arrests and a handful of convictions to its credit, was enacted in 1997.

Contrast that with the arrests of 93 men in the U.S. since 2003, and about 34 prosecutions in Australia since 1994. While not all those cases have concluded with convictions, more than 1,200 Aussie sex offenders were known to have travelled overseas for sex last year.

“I doubt the figures are that different in Canada,” said Bernadette McMenamin, executive officer of the child protection charity Child Wise, based in Melbourne.

About one-quarter of sex tourists abusing children outside of North America are American and Canadian, says ECPAT USA, part of a global organization devoted to eliminating child prostitution and trafficking. Its Canadian counterpart, Beyond Borders, calls efforts by law enforcement here “largely reactionary.”

Documents released by Foreign Affairs show 73 Canadians were arrested in a foreign country for abusing or molesting children or possessing child pornography between 2009 and 2011. That figure only accounts for people who requested consular assistance after they were detained.

Sometimes Canadians are prosecuted overseas instead of at home, like the infamous case of the man dubbed “Swirl Face,” Christopher Neil. The former English teacher from B.C. distributed videos online in which he sexually assaulted young boys. He was sent back to Canada in early October after five years in a Thai prison.

Canadian senators have also highlighted the dearth of convictions.

At a hearing earlier this year by a committee examining a bill pertaining to human trafficking, Sen. Joan Fraser noted the precedent of the sex tourism bill “which we all felt so good about, but nothing much has changed.”

Sen. Mobina Jaffer concurred with her colleague that five convictions has been too few: “Most of them have been fortuitous; it has not been due to the police investigation or anything,” she said, according to minutes of the June 7 meeting.

Jaffer went on to question why Canada doesn’t have investigations officers embedded in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Indonesia.

McConaghy has seen the complexities of a child sex tourism file first-hand, and how the investigations get bogged down. While Canada does have liaison officers covering every country of the world, they have wide-ranging responsibilities and in the sex tourism regions, their expertise is usually in drugs.

It was because of his special skill set the 22-year cop was able to leverage overseas relationships to clinch the Bakker case. He assisted the Vancouver Police Department after they found videotapes depicting vicious sex attacks on Vietnamese children while investigating the hotel worker in the ghastly assaults of local prostitutes.

McConaghy said he doesn’t know any on-the-ground officers who aren’t willing and eager to go after predators, but “police don’t have the resources to be aware of, track and actually work on the files overseas.”

He said the U.S. takes a harder line, staffing embassies to work with foreign governments in hot spots, while Canada is still just building up a federal team with expertise.

He called for a scheme to fight child sex tourists in the same vein as the $25 million national action plan devoted to human traffickers, as well as a mechanism to warn other countries if known offenders will be travelling abroad and for an online repository of images where sex attacks have occurred (without showing victims) that the public can access to provide tips.

McConaghy believes he could spur action overnight, simply by filling a theatre on Parliament Hill with politicians and showing them 20 seconds of any child sex assault video shot by homegrown pedophiles.

“North Americans scare them the most,” he said of the girls living in the NewSong centre, who’ve described their experiences to trained counsellors. “It’s brutality — it’s not just sexual. It’s beatings and violence included.”

Canadian police chase child sex tourists only after receiving a complaint or a request from another force for assistance, said Insp. Sergio Pasin, who heads the Ottawa-based national co-ordination centre for child exploitation investigations. Each agency decides how many resources it requires.

Investigations of overseas crimes requires evidence to be gathered in the foreign jurisdiction, and that can be very expensive, Pasin said. He couldn’t provide an average cost, noting factors vary from the number of investigators, to witnesses needing to be identified and interviewed, to the ambiguous time frame itself.

In British Columbia, there are 12 staff comprising its integrated child exploitation unit, which conducts investigations on its own as well as works with 131 provincial detachments. Its budget is more than $2 million annually, including salaries. About 70 per cent is provincial dollars.

The B.C. officer heading two teams that track sexual predators at home and abroad said she’s never had a situation where she didn’t get outside co-operation or was forced to put an investigation on hold.

“You only have to listen to a child suffer once and you’re permanently changed,” said Staff Sgt. Bev Csikos.

In one recent case, Csikos and her team were set to chase a Canadian in Africa when the whole thing was called off.

“Before we resolved the case, someone in that other country took it into their own hands to stop him from sexually abusing other kids.”

But Csikos noted crimes in foreign countries can be difficult to bring to prosecution based on the high standards required in Canada for evidence. She said difficulty mounts for officers to first locate and then gain trust of young victims when they have just been abused by westerners.

“We want to save all of the children, but we can only save one at a time,” she said.

When McConaghy arrives in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh in January, he knows he’ll see the usual cast of characters: “aged, scabby, fat, sweaty white guys,” sitting alone at tables in restaurants with no equivalent wives, waiting for night to fall.

He’s spoken to travel agents in Vancouver who’ve realized they have clients who fits the M.O. — men who travel abroad to Southeast Asia about the same time each year, on their own, without business reasons or extended family to visit.

But he’ll compartmentalize his disgust in order to share the joy of freedom with the girls at the sanctuary, funded by his charity Ratanak International. It currently houses 39 girls from age five to late teens — it has a capacity of 58 girls — who are under the care of more than 60 staff. Many of those who grow older move to half-way houses to continue their healing.

He and the staff will take the group out for a treat, perhaps pizza, and he expects to be jokingly chastised like daughters might do with a father figure when he brings them Christmas gifts like scarves or T-shirts.

“I acknowledge I know who they are, I know their background, I love them anyway,” he said, noting they’ve been rejected by society. “So that is the best gift I can give them, let them know they are absolutely special.”

U.S. Fishing Tours Accused of Running Child Sex Trips in Brazil

Sex with minors, not just fishing, was part of the tour in Brazil’s Amazon, according to filings in a lawsuit brought against a Georgia man that state he is under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department.

Richard W. Schair, who ran fishing tours to Brazil for U.S. customers, filed papers in federal court July 7 in an effort to delay a lawsuit. The papers refer to investigations by both U.S. and Brazilian authorities. In the lawsuit filed in federal court in Gainesville, Georgia, the plaintiffs said he used alcohol, drugs and promises of money to lure girls aboard a fishing boat, the Amazon Santana.

“Once the girls were on the boat, they were coerced into performing sex acts with Schair and his customers,” states the June 14 lawsuit against Schair by four unidentified Brazilian women who said they were victims of sex trafficking involving his fishing tours. The plaintiffs said the “impoverished” girls, one of them age 12 at the time, were exploited by the U.S. tourists.

Telephone messages and e-mails to Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller and the Brazilian Embassy in Washington weren’t immediately returned.

The documents filed by Schair included a June 25 subpoena for him to appear before a federal grand jury in Florida that requested travel records from Schair, his Wet-A-Line Tours LLC and his ex-wife, Amelia Karr, who was president of the fishing operation. They also included a Dec. 16 Justice Department letter to Karr, asking for her cooperation in a case linking her with “child sex tourism in Brazil.”

Asia Is Not Alone: Sex Tourism in Mombasa

Josh Ruxin is a Columbia University expert on public health who has spent the last few years living in Rwanda. He’s an unusual mix of academic expert and mud-between-the-toes aid worker.

Mombasa, Kenya, has long been world-renowned for its pristine shorelines, abundant night life and cultural attractions dating back centuries. I took my family there for vacation last week. It’s a lovely (though desperately hot) place where I cut my teeth in high school as a volunteer at what is now called Haller Park (after the Swiss agronomist who started it, Rene Haller), famous among children the world over for the unlikely relationship that sprouted there between a hippo and a tortoise a few years ago. Over the last four decades, Haller transformed desert-like limestone quarries into beautiful wetlands and park space. The area where I worked 21 years ago was completely unrecognizable and loaded with animals that my family loved seeing. Sadly, much more than Haller Park has changed in greater Mombasa.

I hadn’t a clue about the city’s thriving sex business until I noticed dozens of women and several girls and boys, no older than age 10, dressed for sale on the narrow road heading north from the city. Go-go bars and clubs frequented by sex workers form a patchwork of poverty along the road that is highly trafficked by European sun-seekers. According to my Kenyan friends, they’re seeking more than sun. When I inquired about the phenomenon, everyone told me that tightened restrictions in Thailand and elsewhere in Asia had pushed the trade to Mombasa, where dozens of weekly flights from Europe fuel its existence.

But I suspect there’s more to it. This situation is just the latest example of malfeasance and human rights misery that follows the weakest governments. Child sex tourism in Mombasa is the direct result of lax local laws and corrupt public officials, including police. The police tried on five occasions to take my driver’s license and hold it for a bribe; one can only imagine how they engage in the finances of sex work and childhood sex slavery. While the core of the problem is poverty, it’s clear that poor governance plays an enormous role in it.

Mombasa’s child sex trade is a disturbing thing to watch, but I found that it’s exploding everywhere in this scenic city, one of Africa’s major tourist destinations. Officially, the problem doesn’t exist, but according to one estimate, up to 30,000 girls between 12 and 14 years old are currently being lured into hotels and private villas along Mombasa’s north and south coasts where they are sexually exploited with promises of riches and trips abroad. In Malindi, impoverished children of both sexes looking for a new life sell their bodies to tourists along the historic town’s white, sandy beaches, and Lamu Old Town – which five years ago was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site – is now known as a place that attracts men looking for young boys. These days, many visitors to Mombasa travel there specifically for illicit sex.

So how did poverty and corruption create this situation? The growing number of children joining Mombasa’s sex tourism trade is in part attributable to the lack of opportunity and further displacement caused by the violent outcome of 2007’s disputed presidential election. It may have been kicked off in part by the dramatic fall in tourism receipts following 9/11 as well. The Kenyans I spoke with said that the situation appeared to sprout from nowhere during the last six years. With few, if any, economic prospects at hand, unscrupulous agents are able to entice boys and girls with the promise of legitimate jobs. Often, however, the kids end up being forced into sex with strangers under the supervision of their putative sponsors. Seduced by the fast cash, many may end up becoming life-long sex workers, with lives cut tragically short by AIDS and violence.

Most child prostitution incidents go unreported, but when they’re brought to light, authorities mostly do nothing. They downplay Mombasa’s role as a child-sex capital for fear that its already fragile tourism industry would be further affected. The laws don’t help either, since they don’t specifically address child prostitution or provide for stiff punishment of offenders. Even Kenya’s Liquor Licensing Act, which prohibits underage drinking, is never enforced. Bars that depend on tourism end up allowing underage drinking, fueling the illicit industry. A further byproduct of corruption is that offending tourists are ultimately able to bribe their way out of any crime or buy the silence of their young victims.

The rise of this trade is shocking, and the speed of its establishment is staggering. It could only have happened under the circumstances that now persist in Kenya: a culture of corruption that increases poverty and speeds decay.

In countries with better (but by no means perfect) governance like Uganda, Tanzania and here in Rwanda, child sex tourism is virtually non-existent (butthere are signs that the child sex trade is growing). Strong families are a key to avoiding the phenomenon of poor children set adrift to make their own way in the world. Here in Rwanda, families remain strong because there is hope, stability and a relative lack of corruption. When parents can make enough money to feed and clothe their children, look out for their health, and also keep them safe, that makes an enormous difference. Combined with the knowledge that the hand of the law will come down on them if they consider selling their children for sex, the industry simply cannot lay down its roots here.

I don’t know what the prescription is for curing Mombasa’s disease. It must begin quickly with aid programs that save these children from the abyss, but that will help treat only a symptom. The real cure lies in a change at the top, the creation of a culture that values transparency and puts future opportunity in the hands of all citizens. Based on Kenya’s current political situation, the cure seems hopelessly far away.

Allegations Link U.S. Companies to Brazilian Sex Tourism

The Justice Department has been conducting a criminal investigation of sports fishing expeditions in the Amazon that may have been used as covers for Americans to have sex with underage girls, according to newly filed court papers.

The investigation and two related actions — a parallel criminal inquiry in Brazil and an unusual lawsuit filed in federal court in Georgia — could provide a rare look at the business operations of the multibillion-dollar international sex tour industry, which has increasingly focused on Brazil.

“Brazil is taking over from Thailand as a premier sex tourism vacation” spot, said Kristen Berg, an official of Equality Now, an advocacy organization in New York that helped bring the lawsuit in Georgia.

That lawsuit was filed last month on behalf of four Brazilian women who claim that they were coerced as minors to serve as prostitutes for Americans on Amazon fishing expeditions operated by an Atlanta-area businessman. One of the women said that she was 12 years old at the time.

Ms. Berg said the lawsuit was the first time that a federal law, the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000, had been used to seek damages from someone accused of operating sex tours.

On Thursday, the defendant in that case, Richard W. Schair, filed a motion asking that the lawsuit be stayed. The motion cited continuing criminal investigations in the United States and Brazil.

In a brief telephone interview, Mr. Schair, who operates an Atlanta-area real estate business, said that allegations that he was involved in child sex tours were untrue. He declined to discuss specifics of the inquiries.

“The allegations are false,” he said. “The facts will prove that.”

Solomon L. Wisenberg, a lawyer in Washington who represents Mr. Schair in connection with the federal criminal investigation, said he was confident that his client would not face charges. The status of the investigation is unclear, as Justice Department officials declined to comment.

Ms. Berg, of Equality Now, said that the group helped bring the Georgia lawsuit because it was looking for precedent-setting cases involving child sex tourism overseas.

She said that she and lawyers from a major firm, King & Spalding, which is working on the case pro bono, traveled to Brazil to interview prospective witnesses, including young women.

Both the lawsuit and the federal criminal investigation are apparently fallout from a separate lawsuit filed in 2007 by Mr. Schair against another operator of Amazon fishing tours, Philip A. Marsteller.

In that action, Mr. Schair charged that Mr. Marsteller had slandered him by telling people that he supplied clients on his fishing tours with prostitutes and drugs. Mr. Marsteller stood by his comments and, as part of his defense, sought statements from young women in Brazil as well as employees of Mr. Schair’s company, called Wet-A-Line Tours. The company is no longer operating.

In 2008, the two men settled the case, with Mr. Schair paying token compensation to Mr. Marsteller, said Kevin Buchanan, a lawyer in Dallas who represented Mr. Marsteller. Mr. Buchanan said that information that came up during the lawsuit led federal officials to begin an investigation of American business connections to child sex tourism in Brazil.

Several news reports in recent years have indicated that Mr. Schair was the subject of criminal investigations both here and in Brazil. But the filing Thursday in conjunction with the Georgia lawsuit was the first time the investigations were publicly acknowledged.

According to the court papers filed by Mr. Schair, federal prosecutors in Miami sent a grand jury subpoena to his company in 2009 asking for, among other things, customer lists. Another document shows that prosecutors notified his ex-wife in December that investigators had obtained information indicating that she was “involved with a company and/or an individual who may have engaged in child sex tourism in Brazil.”

Asked about the documents, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department in Miami, where the inquiry is based, declined, as a matter of policy, to confirm or deny the existence of an investigation.

Translations of Brazilian documents, attached by Mr. Schair to his filing, show that he is charged in a proceeding there with the sexual exploitation of minors. He has denied the accusation.

Mr. Schair made the filing on Thursday on his own behalf.

According to the lawsuit filed last month, Mr. Schair or his employees or customers recruited young girls at a social club along the Amazon to join them on a fishing boat, where the girls were coerced into sex acts and paid.

The Amazon River in Brazil is a particularly attractive area for fishing enthusiasts because it is a home to a hard-fighting species called the peacock bass.

Sun, Sex and Stupidity: The rise of divorced women indulging in Sex Tourism

The handsome young waiter’s eyes followed Sarah as she walked across the restaurant, and she felt her heart beating faster as he leaned over to place a napkin in her lap.
“At 54, I was unused to the attention of young men, especially a handsome one in his 20s,” she says.
“Our eyes connected as I told myself not to be silly – he couldn’t possibly be interested in me. But I was wrong.”
Sarah Jarvis is 59 and has four grown-up children and four grandchildren.
Attractive, slim and smartly dressed, she has been divorced from her lawyer husband for 15 years, and had resigned herself to a series of uninspiring dates with overweight, balding men of her own age at home in Chester.
But here, on holiday with a girlfriend in the Turkish resort of Dalaman, was the promise of something very different.
For Sarah was about to become one of the many thousands of British women courted by the legions of young foreign men in such tourist hotspots as Turkey, Egypt, Jamaica, the Gambia and Kenya.

This summer, thousands of these middle-aged, single women will pour off the planes, to be met by countless fit, athletic-looking dark-skinned young men who will casually approach them, saying: “What a beautiful lady you are. Can I help you find your hotel?”

The chance of a harmless sexual fling, or something more sinister? Writer Jeannette Belliveau, a self-confessed former “sex tourist” and author of a book called Romance On The Road, says the problem is becoming endemic and that these women are deluding themselves about the dangers such flings present.

“The ultimate risk is death,” she says, bluntly. “In the past two years three Western women have been killed for their money by their foreign ‘toy boys’.”

Some of these women tourists never went home after their holiday. Barbara Scott-Jones, 61, from Leeds fell in love with Jamaica and was building a home on the island when she was found dead earlier this year.

Labourer Omar Reid has been charged with her murder. Police believe Barbara had been having an affair with the 30-year-old and had just ended, or was trying to end, the affair when she was killed.

The number of older women who form long-term relationships with holiday gigolos is growing year on year. Statistically, a third of all cross-cultural “marriages” end in divorce, and Jeannette says the naivety of the women involved is unbelievable.

“Most of them are middle class and intelligent, which makes their behavior even more baffling,” she says. “These guys are after their money, pure and simple, and the ultimate goal is marriage so they can get a visa and move to the UK. The fact that they can fall for lines such as ‘You are so gorgeous’ is ridiculous.”

Fifty-three-year-old Jeannette, from Surrey, divorced in her early 30s. A few years later, despairing of the lack of dates in the UK, she began to travel the world and had numerous sexual encounters with young, foreign men. Today, she is married to Lamont Harvey, a historian ten years her junior.

“The trouble is that for divorced or widowed women in their 40s, 50s and 60s, their male peers in the UK are either very unattractive or are looking to date much younger women.

“In countries such as the Gambia and Kenya, there is both a surplus of men and the fact that women there tend to marry men at least ten years older than themselves, which is the culture. So for 18-year-old and 20-plus men, there is no one to date.

“Poverty is rife. Then, over the past ten years, planeloads of mature single British women have started arriving, their handbags full of cash. They’re fit, good-looking men and it didn’t take them long to realise that there are rich pickings here.”

Sarah now realizes how deluded she was during her Turkish fling. She began sleeping with Mohammed, a waiter, almost as soon as they met.

“The sex was amazing,” she says. “Either Mohammed was a very good actor – which is more than possible – or he genuinely enjoyed going to bed with me.

“Imagine what it was like for me, a fifty-something women who felt abandoned, unloved and on the shelf, thinking no man would ever find me attractive again. Here was a beautiful young man with the most incredible, fit body, begging me to go to bed with him.

“Even though alarm bells were ringing, I thought: ‘Why not? What if I never get this opportunity again?’

“He asked me to go for a walk with him when we were in the restaurant. My friend said ‘You can’t be serious’, but I said: ‘Why not?’ And off we went. He kissed me and before I knew what was happening I was inviting him up to my hotel room.”

At 54, Sarah had gone through the menopause and, deciding there was no risk of pregnancy, did not use a condom. “I can now see that this was extremely foolish, as I later discovered Mohammed had slept with hundreds of women,” she says. “I could have picked up a sexually transmitted disease, not to mention the threat of Aids.”

As they lay together, Mohammed told her he was 22. “For the rest of my holiday we spent most of the time in bed. It must have been awful for my friend, but I didn’t care. I was on cloud nine.

“He would look into my eyes and cry, saying: ‘I want to grow old with you, and I want to take care of you for the rest of my life.’

“When I left him at the airport he was in tears, making me promise to write every day and come back soon.

“As soon as I got home I phoned him. He mentioned that he needed some new shoes, and could I send a small amount of cash? Still besotted and with the memory of so much happiness, I sent him money.

“Gradually, the requests began to multiply. Could I send him the money for a DVD player, as he did not have one? Whenever alarm bells began to ring and I sounded a bit short with him, he made me promise to fly out and see him.

“Within that year, I flew back to Turkey four times, spending a fortune not only on plane tickets, but on gifts for him.”

Meanwhile, back in the UK, her children were highly dubious of mum’s new ‘boyfriend’. “I didn’t dare tell them how young he was, and played down the fact that he was a waiter,” she says.

“I said he was in his 30s and ran his own business. They were saying: ‘Look, Mum, this guy is clearly a conman.’ I told them not to interfere, that I knew what I was doing.”

As they lay together in Sarah’s hotel bedroom Mohammed poured out all his financial woes: he was responsible for his elderly parents and was the only bread-winner in the family. “He made me feel guilty if I questioned his constant need for money,” she says.

For the next three years, Sarah flew to Turkey five times a year. Not only did she give Mohammed thousands of pounds, she also flew him on holiday to Istanbul and the coastal resort of Marmaris.

“Sometimes we’d be walking down the street, hand in hand, and other British tourists would look at us askance,” says Sarah. “But I was very defiant – they didn’t realize that this was a real relationship, that we were in love.”

Sex tourism by British women is not a new phenomenon. As far back as the 1890s, there are recorded incidents of single British women becoming involved with dark-skinned Italian and French men on their cultural ‘tours’ of Europe.

During the British Raj, it was not unknown for English matrons to fall prey to the dark-eyed charms of young Indian men.

But in the past two decades, the phenomenon has escalated. Author Jeannette says that since the 1990s, hundreds of thousands of western women have had affairs with much younger foreign men.

“These are respectable middle-class women. Not all of them are unwitting victims to these sexual conmen,” she says. “I have spoken to many women who fly to the Gambia or Jamaica specifically for the purpose of recreational sex.”

Indeed, some British women are utterly shameless about it.

Nicky Jardine, 50, who has two adult daughters and runs her own headhunting business in Guildford, Surrey, goes on holidays with the intention of having sex with young foreigners.

“I see nothing wrong in being a sex tourist,” she says. “My working life is very stressful. Holidays are a time when I can have fun. I have dated men here, but men my age want younger women, and they are also boring. Compare them to a fit, tanned 20-year-old Egyptian!”

Nicky first had sex on a holiday four years ago. She says: “I went on my own to Egypt. I didn’t go looking for sex, but on the first day I became aware I was being eyed up by a very handsome young Egyptian who worked in the hotel complex.

“I told myself not to be silly, but then he approached me and told me I was beautiful.” Nicky invited him to her room.

“It was amazing,” she says. “Maybe he’d targeted lots of British women before – who cares? I wasn’t looking for a long-term romance.

“Of course, you have to realize that these people might be living in poverty. You could be robbed, or even kidnapped. But I felt quite safe when I was with him.”

Now she is settled into a pattern of wild holiday flings totally at odds with her respectable image. Indeed, many would argue that her insouciance about such promiscuity is rather demeaning.

Last year, Nicky enjoyed a Caribbean cruise. “A young crew member made advances,” she smiles. “We had the most amazing times in my cabin. I’d taken my mum with me, and she knew what was going on. In fact, she said: ‘I wish I was 50 again!’”

“I totally understand why more and more British single women like me are going on holiday looking for sex. It’s the easiest thing in the world to pick up a young, handsome guy who will tell you are beautiful and make passionate love to you. All it takes is a bit of cash for presents, and I have plenty of that.

“I always practice safe sex, so no one gets hurt. But I would tell women to be careful. Always use a condom and don’t go off with these men. They are strangers, after all.”

Five years on and Sarah Jarvis no longer looks back on her holiday romance with rose-tinted glasses. “I must have spent more than £20,000 on Mohammed,” she says. “On my final trip last year, I rang his mobile as usual when I arrived at the airport. There was no reply.

“I drove to the hotel where he worked as a waiter, and stormed into his tiny room. He was in bed with an elderly, white woman – like me. He rang me, sobbing, saying it was all a mistake and he loved me.

“Later I marched up to the woman in the hotel dining room and asked her, very calmly, what she thought she was doing. She looked at me in surprise. ‘But he’s my boyfriend,’ she said. ‘We are in love, and I have been flying backwards and forwards from the UK to see him.

“I told her I had, too. She said she had promised Mohammed she would leave her husband and marry him. I said she was a fool.”

Sarah then told Mohammed that his lies had been exposed and ended the relationship. “Speaking to some of the hotel staff, I found out Mohammed had at least 40 white girlfriends,” she says. “It must have been a real juggling act making sure we didn’t all arrive at the same time. Goodness knows how much money he was making out of us all.

“I know people will think: ‘How could you be so stupid?’ But you have to realize just how seductive it is, if you feel fat, old and ugly, to have a beautiful young man saying he cannot live without you and making love to you as if you were a stunning creature.”

But Sarah adds: “More than anything, I want to send out a warning to all the British women planning a holiday romance this summer: don’t do it!

“It will cost you thousands of pounds, and you will end up feeling ridiculous and despised. These are practiced conmen – they don’t think you are beautiful; they laugh at you behind your backs.”

Jeannette agrees. “Wise up,” she says. “At the very least you will be fleeced out of hundreds, maybe thousands of pounds. In Kenya and Africa generally, Aids is endemic and you are putting yourself at serious risk.

“Some of these guys are so poor they have nothing to lose, and they may turn violent. If you go off alone with them and change your mind, they may well rape you anyway.

“I know I have been guilty of sex tourism in the past, but there is no way I would take those risks now, knowing what I know.”