Washington, DC - A U.S. citizen residing outside the United States was sentenced Wednesday to 108 months in prison for attempting to molest an 11-year-old boy in Vietnam.
Joseph Ricky Park, 67, aka Joseph Demasi, pleaded guilty on Feb. 24 to attempting to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a child. According to court documents, around January 2015, while living in Vietnam, Park invited three Vietnamese boys to his apartment under the guise of offering English language instruction. At his apartment, while the boys played video games, Park placed his hand on a victim’s genitals and then proceeded to “pinch” and stroke the victim’s genitals through the victim’s clothing. Park then placed his hand inside the victim’s pants and attempted to continue stroking the victim’s genitals, but the victim pushed Park’s hand away.
Park was prosecuted in this case following a 2013 amendment to a federal criminal statute that prohibits U.S. citizens residing abroad from committing sex offenses against minors. Park, who resided outside the United States without returning from March 2003 until his arrest in this case in January 2016, challenged the constitutionality of this provision. In September 2019, in the first appellate opinion to consider the issue, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld the application of this statute to the facts of this case.
According to court documents, Park has multiple prior convictions for offenses against minors. In 1987, he was convicted in Connecticut of two counts of injury or risk of injury to children, and one count of sexual assault in the second degree, for which he received concurrent sentences of ten years’ imprisonment, and served five years in prison, then was released, violated probation, and was re-imprisoned. In 2003, he was convicted of attempted corruption of a minor in Cuba and served more than two years in prison. According to court documents, the defendant repeatedly acknowledged having a sexual attraction to boys nearing or going through puberty.
Homeland Security Investigations investigated the case, with valuable assistance provided by agents in Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Guam, and the FBI’s Washington Field Office.
Deputy Chief Alexandra R. Gelber and Trial Attorney Lauren S. Kupersmith of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) prosecuted the case. Attorney Sonja Ralston of the Criminal Division’s Appellate Section handled the appeal.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and CEOS, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.