HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Maui man accused of “buying” a 9-year-old Thai girl and then sexually assaulting her when she was 14 will likely serve five years behind bars under a plea deal.
In court papers, 76-year-old George Theros admitted that he had sex with the girl earlier this year while he was trying to smuggle her on a boat from Panama to Hawaii.
Theros, who remains in federal custody, also agreed to be placed under supervised release for the rest of his life. That he can be sent back to prison if he ever re-offends.
“This is an extreme case of trafficking. You have his buying her on a foreign land and bringing her to the United States. This is the very definition of trafficking,” said defense attorney Megan Kau.
Kau said the plea deal, which gives him just five years out of a possible 30, was likely made to avoid a lengthy trial, which would have been traumatic for the young girl.
“It saves the victim from testifying in a very public and very high publicity trial. It re-victimized the victim every time she has to tell her story," said Kau.
Theros’ sentencing is set for April 1.
The plea deal comes as the U.S. Attorney’s Office is stepping up its prosecution of sex trafficking cases involving minors.
Last month, U.S. Attorney for Hawaii Kenji Price told Hawaii News Now that during the past year his office has handled more cases than it has for the last three years combined.
Just last week, Dustin Miyakawa was sentenced to 15 years in prison for attempting to entice a teenage girl and threatening to share topless photos he took of her if she didn’t have sex with him.