Former P.R. psychiatrist jailed for child exploitation

A former psychiatrist here has been sentenced to 15 years in jailed for transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual conduct.

The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency said on Friday that, on Aug. 20, 2013, Gerardo Navarro-Rodriguez, 60, was arrested at his medical office in Caguas after an investigation revealed he allegedly induced, coerced, and enticed at least one 17-year-old male to engage in commercial sexual acts.

The investigation was spurred by a referral from the Puerto Rico Police Department, ICE said.

According to the criminal complaint, Navarro-Rodriguez was a psychiatrist working for APS Healthcare Puerto Rico. APS is a private corporation contracted by the Puerto Rican government and is the sole provider of mental health services under The Puerto Rico Health Reform, “Mi Salud.”

In his position as a psychiatrist for APS, Dr. Navarro-Rodriguez provided, among other things, psychiatric therapy sessions to children and adolescent victims of sexual abuse.

From about October 2011 through May 2013, a male minor was a patient of Dr. Navarro-Rodriguez.

The criminal complaint alleges during this period the doctor committed lewd acts and sexual assault against the victim on several occasions.

“Predators who victimize innocent children for selfish gratification must know that we will not rest until they are brought to justice, regardless of where they live and who they are,” said Ricardo Mayoral, acting special agent in charge of ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) San Juan.

“Words cannot describe the harm that these crimes inflict on children,” he added.

In response to the need for an island-wide approach in the fight against the escalation of predatory crimes against children, ICE said HSI San Juan partnered with members of local, state and federal law enforcement, as well as local and state government officials and community leaders, to form the PRCACTF in June 2011.

Through PRCACTF, ICE said local, state and federal law enforcement agencies work together with local and state government agencies to effectively pool their resources to jointly investigate all crimes against children in Puerto Rico.

Through the task force, ICE said law enforcement officers are encouraged to share evidence, ideas, and investigative and forensic tools to ensure the most successful prosecutions possible.

As such, it said PRCACTF allows law enforcement to speak with one unified voice in defense of the children of Puerto Rico.

The current investigation was conducted under HSI’s Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators.

Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, ICE said HSI has arrested more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children.

In fiscal year 2014, ICE said more than 2,300 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative and more than 1,000 victims identified or rescued.

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