Video: Inside a sexual slavery ring

By Chris Hansen Correspondent
NBC News
updated 8/8/2007 9:10:50 PM ET 2007-08-09T01:10:50

This story aired Aug. 8, Dateline NBC. Contains adult subject matter.

The moment we stepped outside our hotel in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, we were greeted with this offer.

Driver: Many, many, many girls.

Dateline: Many girls?

Driver: Yes.

Dateline: How young?

Driver: Young, maybe, uh,... 12.

Twelve year olds for sale? Sounds shocking, but when we arrived in this village called Svay Pak, we met a young pimp selling even younger girls.

Po: New girls, too much for you.

How young?

Po: Eight, eight.

Along with a human rights investigator, we followed the pimp through the village alleys into a room filled with kids.

Po: New girls, new girls.

Some so young they could be in kindergarten.

At one brothel after another, there were dozens of children -- all for sale.

This girl told us she's nine.

This one ten. Both said they knew how to perform oral sex.

And they gave us a price in U.S. Dollars.

Girl: One girl, 30.

Dateline: One girl 30, and two girls?

Girl: Sixty.

We also found foreign tourists visiting Svay Pak, but most weren't eager to tell us why.

Dateline: So what do you do down here chief?

Visitor: Um, I have a friend down, here to eat.

Dateline: Uh-huh.

Visitor: Uh.

Dateline: You come down to Svay Pak to eat?

Visitor: Um, no it's nice, just a nice area.

This American doctor did admit on hidden camera he came for sex -- not with the very young girls, but with teenagers.

Jerry A: I mean, 15, 16 and older. Maybe a 14-year-old might sneak in if you can't tell the age, but you know I don't take the little, the really little ones.

We were in Cambodia with Gary Haugen, a former federal prosecutor who runs a human rights group called the International Justice Mission.

Gary Haugen: This is the kind of brutal ugliness that is sort of hard to open your eyes to. But once you do, I think as a human being, you’ve got to take responsibility for it.

Haugen and his team devised a plan to rescue the children in Svay Pak and put the adults exploiting them behind bars. With pressure from the U.S. government, they persuaded the Cambodian police to take action.

We went undercover inside a brothel with the human rights investigators.

Robert: This is Lam and Viet, and Dao?

When the police raided...

(girl screams)

Dateline: It's okay. Be good girl. It's okay. It's okay.

Thirty-seven girls were rescued that day. Many were under the age of 10.

A dozen suspects were arrested. Four were convicted and given prison sentences ranging from 5 to 15 years.

Our report has had a far-reaching impact, not only in Cambodia, but a continent away in Vancouver, Canada.

In January 2004, police were investigating a complaint that a man named Donald Bakker had beat up a prostitute in this park and videotaped the crime.

Ron Bieg: The whole entire incident had been taped.

Chris Hansen: Videotaped?

Ron Bieg: Yes.

Even more disturbing, Vancouver police detective Ron Bieg told us that authorities found videotapes Bakker shot of himself on a trip in Asia of having sex with very young girls.

Chris Hansen: And we're talking about seven, eight, nine year old kids?

Bieg: Yes … We were blown away by it.

These are images of Donald Bakker's child victims. Canadian authorities wanted to prosecute Bakker for those overseas sex crimes, but they didn't know who the victims were or where the crimes took place -- until Bieg tuned in to our report on Cambodia. He couldn't believe his eyes when he began to look closely at the video.

Ron Bieg: We see rooms that look eerily similar to the rooms in Bakker's videotape.

Chris Hansen: Some of the children looked to be--

Ron Bieg: Similar.

Chris Hansen: Similar. That's a pretty good break.

Ron Bieg: It was a godsend.

Bieg explained to us how he compared images from our broadcast with Bakker's tapes.

Chris Hansen: So you were able to match, for instance, this piece of furniture here to a piece seen in the tape confiscated from Bakker.

Ron Bieg: Exactly.

And an even closer look at our tapes reveals other details that matched: this window, these posters on the wall...

Chris Hansen: It turns out that some of the girls seen on Bakker's video performing sex acts on him were seen being rescued in our story.

Ron Bieg: Yes. Four of them. That was the break that we needed.

Donald Bakker pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting seven girls in Cambodia and three adult prostitutes in Vancouver.

He was sentenced to seven years in prison.

And he was not the only individual to face justice after our original story.

Possibly because of all the attention, Cambodia has begun to crack down on foreign sex offenders.

Investigator: Hey, Terry.

Like Terry Smith.

Last year he was running a bar in a beachfront town in southern Cambodia.

Bob Mosier of the International Justice Mission said his group heard that Smith was selling young girls for sex and was allegedly also raping them himself.

Bob Mosier: He would show these children pornographic videos. And when, after watching the videos, he would have these children perform these sexual acts on him. As training.

Mosier sent in undercover investigators as customers.

Smith apparently told the girls to dance for the customers, first with their clothes on and then, shockingly, with their tops off.

The human rights group took the evidence to the Cambodian authorities.

This police officer arrested Smith and his girlfriend and says he found tapes Smith made of himself in several Asian countries.

Cambodian police official [translation]: I believe that he didn't violate only these girls here. I believe he violated many other girls.

It also turned out that Smith was a convicted sex offender in the United States and was wanted in Oregon.

The Cambodians agreed to turn him over to U.S. authorities.

Last October, U.S. Marshals escorted Terry Smith home to the U.S. to finally face those charges back in Oregon.

Last month, Smith was sentenced to 22 years in prison.

Since we first started reporting on this issue four years ago, the changes in Cambodia, in many ways prompted by human rights advocates like Gary Haugen, have been profound.

Gary Haugen: The difference is dramatic. And it should be a sign of hope for other countries that struggle with the problem of sex trafficking.

He's especially proud of what's happened with some of the girls his group has helped rescue.

Gary Haugen: Just a few weeks ago I was able to see for the first time some of those youngest girls that we rescued and they talked to me about how one wanted to become a lawyer. And one wanted to become a translator. And one wanted to go into computers. And this is a transformation that one can appreciate only if you've ever seen the undercover video of what was being done to these children inside these brothels. They have a future.

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