United States Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero announced that Valentin Ortiz, 73, of Reading, PA, was sentenced to five years and 11 months in prison, five years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay $10,000 restitution by United States District Court Judge John M. Gallagher for repeatedly traveling to the Dominican Republic to engage in a sexual relationship with a 12 year old child, with whom he eventually fathered two children.
In November 2021, the defendant pleaded guilty to one count of travel in foreign commerce with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct, and two counts of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign place. The charges arose from an investigation which began when the defendant, a naturalized United States citizen, applied to bring his spouse to the U.S. by filing paperwork with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in June 2018. The defendant listed August 2013 as the date of their marriage, when his spouse and victim was 18 and he was 65 years old. Investigators discovered that beginning in 2007, when the defendant was 59 and the victim was just 12 years old, he pursued and maintained a sexual relationship with her when he traveled to the Dominican Republic. This ongoing illicit sexual relationship led to the victim becoming pregnant with their two children, when she was 13 and 15 years old, respectively.
“Valentin Ortiz is a sexual predator who targeted a very young and vulnerable victim, travelling internationally so he could prey on this child without the same legal consequences as he might face in the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Romero. “But as a U.S. citizen, he is prohibited from engaging in such abhorrent conduct abroad, and accordingly, he has now been held accountable for his crimes.”
“Catching international predators requires international reach. When it comes to these types of cases, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) is a premier U.S. government agency working to track, arrest, and convict these appalling criminals,” said William S. Walker, Special Agent in Charge for the HSI Philadelphia Field Office. “This case shows how HSI Philadelphia, along with our colleagues in the Dominican Republic, collaborated closely and stopped at nothing in pursuit of a dangerous sexual predator of children.”
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (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. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Josh A. Davison.