A FEDERAL grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia indicted a US diplomat previously assigned in the Philippines for engaging in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign place and possession of child pornography, the US Department of Justice said.
According to the indictment and court documents, Dean Cheves, 61, was a member of the U.S. Foreign Service serving in the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines between September 2020 and February 2021.
While in the Philippines, Cheves allegedly met a 16-year-old online.
Court documents further detail that Cheves allegedly engaged in sexual activity with the minor on two occasions, knowing the minor’s age, and produced cell phone videos of himself engaging in the sex acts each time.
The videos were found on Cheves’s devices seized from his embassy residence while in the Philippines.
Between February 2021 and March 2021, he also allegedly possessed child pornography.
Cheves is charged with one count of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign place and one count of possessing child pornography in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States or on lands owned or leased by the United States.
On July 6, Cheves made his initial court appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ivan D. Davis of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of up to 30 years in prison on count one, and up to 10 years in prison on count two.
A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Raj Parekh for the Eastern District of Virginia made the announcement and Assistant Director for Domestic Operations Mark Sullo of the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service made the announcement.
The State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service is investigating the case.
Trial Attorney Gwendelynn Bills of the Justice Department’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Lauren Pomerantz Halper of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia are prosecuting the case.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.
Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.