U.S. citizen suspected of child porn

  • 2001-12-20
  • TBT staff
RIGA - A U.S. citizen was arrested in Vidrizi, a town in Latvia's northern Limbazu region, on suspicion of child abuse, and will be detained for up to a month while the prosecutor general's office decides what charges to press.

Thomas Stephen Pendleton, 58, was detained Dec. 6, police spokesman Krists Leiskalns said, after police allegedly found candies, toys, assorted prescription medication and six photo albums that contained some shots of naked children in his possession.

Oskars Rode, Pendleton's Latvian legal representative, said his client was not guilty of sexually abusing any children in Latvia and was merely in the country sightseeing and doing occasional work.

"Sometimes he was teaching English, sometimes he was visiting schools," Rode said.

Police detained Pendleton for questioning and searched his belongings after being contacted by the Childrens' Rights Protection Center based in Riga, said Leiskalns.

Police allege that Pendleton sexually abused two 9- and 13-year-old boys while staying with their families.

But Rode said his client had not sexually abused either child, although he added that his client didn't deny that he knew both boys or that he stayed with either family.

"He hasn't done such a thing," he said.

As for the pictures discovered in Pendleton's luggage, Rode said they had been taken without any sexual intent and were slated to be destroyed because of their ambiguity.

"Mr. Pendleton wanted to destroy the pictures because of their unintended erotic nature, but couldn't before he was arrested," he added.

Police disagree with Pendleton's legal representation on the nature of the photographs.

"In the pictures are naked children and they have erotic characteristics," Leiskalns said.

Rode did not address the other contents of Pendleton's bag, adding that he had not seen either the bag or its contents.

According to the state police, Pendleton had been traveling around Latvia, visiting various schools and meeting with families. He got into schools, Leiskalns said, by impersonating as a member of a charity organization and offering to teach English.

The U.S. Embassy refused to comment on the case or Pendleton, citing the U.S. Privacy Act.