Thursday, February 26, 2009

Human Rights Worker Admits to Possessing Child Porn at JFK

The director of a human rights organization with ties to the United Nations has pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography, a month after he was nabbed with DVDs while boarding a plane at JFK Airport.

Clarence J. Dias, 65, of White Plains, an attorney and director of the New York City-based International Center for Law in Development, pleaded guilty last Thursday in Queens Criminal Court to one count of possessing an obscene sexual performance by a child. He is expected to receive a conditional discharge and will be ordered to register as a sex offender for the next 20 years when he is sentenced on April 21.

According to the charges, Dias was boarding a Cathay-Pacific Airlines flight to Bangkok on January 20 when Transportation Security Administration personnel found several DVDs containing explicit images of children during a random search of his luggage.

Among the items found was a paper cover featuring nine nude photographs depicting various explicit acts between a pre-pubescent male under the age of twelve and an adult male, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. An examination of a portion of the DVD also revealed similar acts being depicted.

“Child pornography strikes at the heart of innocence – sexually victimizing and violating the human rights of the youngest members of our society around the world,” said Brown. “It is often linked to human trafficking and child prostitution. This case is particularly disturbing because the issue of human rights has been the focus of the defendant’s public career.”

Dias’ offices with the International Center for Law are located within the United Nations building in Manhattan. He holds a doctorate in law from Bombay University and has consulted on human rights issues with several U.N agencies, according to his online biography. He has authored three books on human rights and laws in developing countries. The International Center for Law in Development is a nongovernmental organization concerned about human rights in the development process.

According to prosecutors, Dias tried to say the explicit DVD called “Winner Pub Pattaya” was for research after it was located during the search. The video title is a reference to a beach resort in Thailand, and Dias had faced as much as four years in prison on the charges he was originally arrested on.

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