Man sentenced after allegedly traveling 35 times to molest children in Cambodia

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Wednesday, August 3, 2016
Ronald 'John' Boyajian, 55, is seen in this undated file photo.
Ronald 'John' Boyajian, 55, is seen in this undated file photo.

LOS ANGELES -- A former Orange County resident was sentenced to 70 years behind bars for repeatedly traveling to Cambodia to molest impoverished children.

Ronald "John" Boyajian was found guilty in March of traveling overseas 35 times over the course of nine years to abuse little girls who ranged from ages 8 to 11.

He was sentenced to 70 years in federal prison on Monday.

Some of Boyajian's victims recently testified against him during his six-week trial. One of them testified that Boyajian had treated her like she wasn't human.

Officials say Boyajian paid pimps and impoverished relatives for access to the girls.

Prior to his trips to Cambodia, Boyajian served time in 1994 in Orange County for more than 20 counts of child molestation. Soon after he was released, he took his first trip to Cambodia.

Boyajian was arrested in 2009 while on his 35th trip to Cambodia.

The 55-year-old was among the first defendants charged under an international law enforcement initiative specifically targeting Americans traveling to Cambodia for the purpose of sexually abusing children.

Operation Twisted Traveler was an effort by the Justice Department and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to crack down on sex tourism.

Boyajian was charged under the Protect Act, which became law in 2003 and made it easier for U.S. authorities to prosecute people for overseas sex crimes. Federal authorities have made more than 70 arrests under the act in countries including Cambodia, Thailand and the Philippines.

City News Service contributed to this report.