Australian pleads not guilty to child abuse in Philippines

AP News
Posted: Jun 16, 2015 6:26 AM
Australian pleads not guilty to child abuse in Philippines

CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines (AP) — An Australian man and his Filipino girlfriend pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges of raping and trafficking two girls aged 9 and 12 in a southern Philippine city.

Peter Gerald Scully and Carme Ann Alvarez were arraigned on five counts of rape through sexual assault and one count of child trafficking. The trafficking charge is not bailable, said Cagayan de Oro City Prosecutor Fidel Macauyag.

Each rape count carries a penalty of 12-20 years in prison, while child trafficking is punishable by up to life in prison, he said.

According to Macauyag, Alvarez, 22, invited the two girls to the couple's residence, where they were held and abused for three days in September 2014 before they escaped and reported what had happened to their parents and the police.

Scully's lawyer, Jose Pallugna, said his client plans to file a motion to turn state's witness against Alvarez. "He was the passive participant here. It was (Alvarez) who was the active participant," Pallugna said.

He said the woman's government-appointed lawyer plans to turn her into a state witness against Scully, 52.

Macauyag said police found only Alvarez when they raided the residence in Cagayan de Oro following the girls' escape. Scully was arrested in nearby Malaybalay City in February.

The court set a pretrial conference for next week.

Macauyag said Scully is also under investigation in the death of a girl whose remains were found inside his house in southern Surigao City.