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Foreign students made sex slaves

Jean Kim

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We’ve all heard about sex trafficking, but did you know that America is among the three highest countries for imported sex slaves and that they’re being brought in legally through the National Foreign Exchange Student Program?

People have long seen exchange programs as a good opportunity for students to travel to foreign countries so that they can study in a different environment and get to know the varying people and cultures.

If we think about it though, it becomes painfully obvious that it’s an easy way for sex criminals to mail in an order for a 16-year-old kid.

What makes these foreign exchange students the perfect victims is that they can be forced into submission by threats of deportation; many times they cannot communicate proficiently in English.

One of the most notorious hosts is Thomas Scott King. King is currently a well-known and valued member of a West Virginia association of pedophiles. He has also become a “high placer,” which is someone who finds a host home for up to 50 or more foreign exchange students each year. With each student worth an average of $15,000, exchange agencies are loathe to displease these “high placers.”

What makes me nauseous is that this isn’t a recent discovery. There have been complaints coming into the West Virginia State Board of Education for a number of years, but they have been largely ignored. The same convicted sex offenders have time and time again acted as hosts to underaged students from around the world.

One unnamed retired police officer from Oregon was quoted as saying, “A convicted rapist hosted an 18-year-old Japanese girl; she stayed in his home only a few days before the situation became known to authorities and [the] girl was removed, but not before the rapist began touching her inappropriately … a year later, this same rapist was accepted by a host organization to host a 16 year-old Thai girl.”

We would assume that the U.S. State Department, which is charged with watching over exchange student programs, would clearly want to put an end to the exploitation of such a valuable academic program.

The exchange programs should also clearly want to protect those students who participate. When this industry is making millions of dollars a year and the state department receives funds from them, however, officials tend to write off incidents as “contractual disputes.”

That’s not to say that there aren’t some people without morals out there. Danielle Grijalva, originally a Center for Cultural Interchange representative, created the “Committee of Safety for Foreign Exchange Students” after researching the mistreatment of students by their host families. Her organization has grown to more than 1,500 volunteers from around the world.

We must wonder why it is that volunteers are doing more to fight for justice than the government. Shouldn’t it be a priority to protect guest students in the U.S.? Are American exchange students subjected to similar criminal abuse by host pedophiles when they travel abroad?

Besides corruption, America’s isolationist attitude is allowing more and more crime to occur within our borders. As long as it’s not affecting Americans we don’t seem to notice. The longer we keep the mindset that America is a separate world within the world, the victimization of our visitors will continue.

Jean Kim is an English major and a contributing writer for the Daily Forty-Niner.



20 Responses to “Foreign students made sex slaves”

  1. Joyce Brandal on March 4th, 2009 12:47 pm

    Wow! This writer gets it. Talk about writing with true grit. Refreshing to read the truth; someone telling it like it is exposing the part of the student exchange industry that they try with all their might to keep from the public. Jean Kim is to be commended for bringing to the public’s attention what is behind the glossy brochures that the student exchange placement agencies provide. West Virginia State Police must offer to these visiting teenagers the same laws that are afforded to American teens. Visit the Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students website to learn how abuse of these teenagers is not an isolated incident: http://www.csfes.org.

  2. JJS on March 4th, 2009 1:18 pm

    Two thumbs up for both writer Jean Kim and the Daily Forty-Niner for this story. It tells a story of a dark side as to how pedophiles and rapists have infiltrated the foreign exchange program and turned it into a sexual playground where criminals can just “order up” the child of their dreams.

  3. Joe Smith on March 4th, 2009 3:38 pm

    I see nothing here that verifies this story. In our current technological environment, anyone can write anything about anyone without any proof to back it up. This type of story seems to expose Jean Kim as someone who gets his jollies writing about sex whether the story is true or not. I also believe that hte Committe for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students is a fraudulent, questionable organization that takes donations from people without fulfilling any true purpose.

  4. Alan L. of Illinois on March 4th, 2009 3:58 pm

    And what exchange organization do you represent, Joe? (Of course, not your real name…) Many do not like the efforts of the Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students, you’re right. CSFES exposes the truth of the illicit practices of these multimillion dollar organizations claiming to be non-profits. Check it for yourself via http://www.guidestar.org. Read the news articles posted on the CSFES site. The way many exchange students have been treated in our country is a disgrace.

  5. Joe Smith on March 4th, 2009 4:32 pm

    No, I don’t use my real name because I don’t want a bunch of freaks stalking me. What was I supposed to get from guidestar.org? That CSFES is so small and insignificant that they don’t have to file with the IRS? And the news articles posted on the CSFES website? Mostly either letters to editor written by the organization or press releases written by the organization – most legitimate publications don’t see anything truthful or newsworthy. Where are the articles about the disgraceful behavior of exchange students? The number of people, especially high school teachers and administrators, that have a negative story about exchange students coming here and abusing the privilege – using drugs, shoplifting or worse – is probably much more newsworthy.

  6. Alan L. of Illinois on March 4th, 2009 5:30 pm

    Joe, interesting what little you know about CSFES really gets your goat! Rather amusing. My guess is that CSFES is a relatively new organization. While they have a strong support staff and maintain volunteers pretty much everywhere, they’re not required to file until enough funds are received in donations is met. No time to tell you how to navigate guidestar, and surprised you haven’t acquainted yourself with the News articles reporting abuse of these innocent teens on their site. It’s simple; double click where you read News 2009, News 2008 and read about Sanford Kaplan who blindfolded and suspended his victims from a beam inside his garage; or Richard Young of Kansas who molested the young boy from South Korea; and Paul Stone of Kentucky who sodomized his female exchange student from Taiwan. Do you ever wonder why the exchange industry fights so hard to have the public believe that these incidents are rare? The State Department does absolutely nothing and the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel is simply the fox watching the hen house. My guess is that you’re an area representative for a student placement organization or the spouse of one. You’re conditioned and transparent; just the way the agency you work for likes it. Do some reach and come back with some hard hitting questions to liven things up a bit. Have a good evening. Alan

  7. Joe Smith on March 4th, 2009 6:06 pm

    What actually gets my goat is that anyone can post anything on the internet and call it fact. No one legitimate ever bothers to challenge whether it is accurate or truthful. Why do you have to guess about the age and donation level of CSFES? You have presented yourself here as a supporter and expert on this organization. You say it is legitimate. What is the staff size and how much in donations did they receive last year? How long have they been in existance? You don’t have to instruct me on how to navigate guidestar. And I already stated that from what I could see, most of the articles on this website were written by the organization with no way to verify if they are true. I also would like to know what “reach” is. Do you mean research? My hard hitting questions are: Where is the information on the number of exchange students who commit crimes while they are here? Why do they come if being an exchange student is so awlful? Didn’t their parents do the research before sending them? By the way, what kind of natural parents are these who are sending their students to such a horrible place? I’m sure you don’t have legitimate answers to my questions. I am no more conditioned and transparent than you are. Having done plenty of research in my lifetime, I doubt if you have supportable, research-based answers to my questions. You are free to believe the titilating propaganda of CSFES; that is your privilege living in America – one that you certainly are not worthy of.

  8. Sherrie of Texas, Grand Prairie on March 4th, 2009 7:41 pm

    Now, now Joe and Alan, if you’re going to rough house, take it outside. 🙂 Can I step in? I was appalled to read this article and all that I’ve come to know since I heard about that Frank Swiderski case in Ohio. He’s the guy who hosted a male student from Vietnam. This guy would hop in the shower with his student and shower with him. Then the guy would make the boy lay down on the floor on couch cushions where he’d give the boy a full back and front body massage. This was quite the talk of the town. He was convicted; did a handful of months in jail, the usual. Anyway, I like your questions, Joe, and here’s the thing, your questions are so important because there is no reporting agency to learn any of this stuff. If you wanted to send your son or daughter to France, for example, and you selected a student placement agency, where can you call to see if any kids died while on the program? Why can’t you call some sort of a clearinghouse, if you will, where you can get these stats? Did you hear about Tyler Hill from Minnesota who was killed while in Japan, I believe two years ago? Google Tyler Hill. Did you hear about that McCullum boy from, I believe Maine, it was, who returned to the United States many pounds lighter, something like 50? Can’t remember, but it was sick. Sick stuff. Google McCullum starvation. Maybe his first name is Jon or Jonathan. Anyway, may I tell you the brief amount of study I’ve done on the matter since I was thinking about sending my child abroad until Frank pulled his little stunt? I’ve come to learn that, just like my child who is still a teenager, that my child is really interested in learning how other people live. To speak their language and to experience their food and culture. Yes, my teen is a typical teen, but we’ve brought all our children up to be respectful and the like. I say all this because the exchange students I’ve come to know who go to school with our children are your typical teens, too. Curious, shy and yes, some come from wealthy families. I have learned that their natural parents spend the dough, let me tell you. Some children from China have spent in the upwards of $22,000 to come to america. I’ve read where some families have saved for many years to be able to have their child study abroad. Many from Asia, for example, want to enhance their understanding of the English language and be immersed in the American way of life. They are respectful and understand the command of authority, in that they respect their elders and have been surprised, for example, about the way many of our teenagers here in America treat our school administrators. I hope I’m making sense. I’m just wanting you to know that the parents of these foreign kids send them with the most complete pride and understanding that their child will return with a stronger understanding of English, perhaps have matured some and with the strongest of hope that they have done the best for their child by providing forever memories of their time spent abroad as an exchange student. Almost done. Many parents have also been an exchange student when they were younger. And let me share that the student exchange industry has changed since I was a teen. This much I’ve come to know as fact. My study tells me that what started out as a simple and noble idea has turned a sour note at the hands of greedy individuals who rake in the millions. Oh, did you know that the State Department gives these multi-million dollar grants to a handful of their sponsors, and it has surfaced that for many, they didn’t even have homes waiting for these kids when they arrived after a some 22 hour flight. I’m getting too long winded here, but I’d also like to be clear that the high school my children go to have open communication with the CSFES. There was a young man from Australia who had his host parents doing something like asking the boy to pay their rent, and pay some odd amount of $50. every other day for the host mum to take him to school. He nonchalantly mentioned this to his dad one day during an IM exchange and the dad blew his stack. I heard the dad did some research and found an outfit in the United Kingdom who has an ambassador also from Australia. Something like that. Anyhow, small world that we live in, the dad contacted the organization in UK to then find out to contact the Committee for Safety of Foreign Exchange Students and things got straightened out. This is just me telling you that only if you want, you should call the organization. I’ve never called but have learned that most of the volunteers are very versed with the Department of State regulations. I’m appalled how the area rep at my child’s school who places some 15 student’s each year hasn’t even heard of them. I think they may be able to tell you more about their size and all. Personally, many among the Foreign Exchange Student Programs would just as soon see CSFES shut down. For the first time in 50 years these…

  9. Sally on March 4th, 2009 10:28 pm

    About the article…it is a stated opinion piece. The main problem I have with the authors writing is that his argument is a fallacy.

    About the CSFES…I cannot speak about the general work of this organization, because I would be resorting to the same faulty logic as this author. I do know one host family that was harrassed and persecuted by the CSFES, and their only crime was hosting an ill-adjusted student who was also an accomplished liar. At least in this one case, the CSFES did not seem to me to be at all interested in the truth.. I have no idea what their goal was.

  10. Anna B. of Ohio on March 4th, 2009 11:15 pm

    Sally: What was your focus on obtaining the truth? Many students who report abuse are automatically labeled as ‘liars’ or ‘manipulative’ or ‘has an inability to adjust in America.'” My guess is that you failed to contact CSFES with your concerns. Had you, you would have been met with a straight-edge approach to the logic of CSFES. If you simply relied on the hysterics of the host family, then you wasted your time then as you’re wasting your time now whining about the matter. As for the author; Jean Kim has hit it right on, baby. Teens arrive by the thousands in our great red, white and blue to become sex slaves, abused and neglected. Sad as the truth is; it is what it is: the sad truth. Already many look forward to an update story from Jean Kim. This staff writer tells it like it is. Keep in mind, one can always tell an awesome story when it gets under one’s skin. Why did it get under yours, Sally? Tell the truth.

  11. Your name on March 5th, 2009 2:45 am

    How many foreign exchange students do you think “Joe” has hosted. It seems like he would like to keep this hush hush.

  12. Your name on March 5th, 2009 2:49 am

    Sally: you’re comparing one case against the multitude of documented abuses, arrests and convictions. I sure hope you don’t have children. If you do, I pray you don’t trust the word of convicted pedophiles over them. Shame on you. One victim is too many.

  13. Jane C. on March 5th, 2009 9:12 am

    I can’t help but wonder why anyone would read an article like this and immediately jump to the conclusion that it’s all a bunch of lies. These are children we’re talking about! Is it because they are foreign children? Imagine if this were a story about animal abuse. People would be writing in to ask how they could help, not deny that the abuse is taking place. What in the world motivates these naysayers? What is in it for them?

  14. Susie Quinn on March 5th, 2009 1:23 pm

    There are thousands of exchange student sex slaves in this country? Really? News for you people – Sally has it right about CSFES. It is not an army of volunteers; it is a few individuals in need of the help of a mental health professional. It is an organization in search of a cause. It is small for that reason. The vast majority of exchange students that come here are not made into sex slaves, quite the contrary. Most of them are the spoiled, rude, ill-behaved, elitest children of the priviledge class coming here to get out of their parents hair for a while and see how much trouble they can cause. Who is out there advocating for the AMERICAN host parents who VOLUNTEER thinking they are going to have a cultural exchange, and instead end up having to replace destroyed property,bail their exchange student out of jail, and then try to maintain a normal life while following due process to get that student sent home? And while all of this is happening, they are being harrassed and having their reputation destroyed in the community by CSFES. Too many of you writing comments obviously have no experience with teenagers or you wouldn’t portray them as innocent victims/angels.

  15. Stanley on March 5th, 2009 8:32 pm

    What I think is crazy is you can search the Internet and find all these cool stories about these kids who are having a great time which is great. But the moment the other side of the story is exposed, automatically there is name calling and accusations. Let’s get it together. These foreign teenagers, for reasons I can’t figure out, are truly coming to the United States and treated like crap. Think about it, people. Doesn’t anyone care? We all claim to be so proud of our country, but when its discovered that, hey, this really is a predator’s playgound in disguise, we all want to solely rely on those ‘cool’ stories and condem the people who are uncovering the truth. Something isn’t right about that. Anyone got a clue?

  16. Rory K. on March 8th, 2009 12:24 pm

    Sounds like it’s time for Susie Q. to get out of the foreign student exchange business. Did CSFES catch Susie in the act and now Susie’s got an ax to grind? Why is Ms. Q so angry about an international group of people who are watching out for the safety of children here and abroad? Thank you CSFES for all the good work you do.

  17. Julie on March 14th, 2009 5:16 pm

    Yes, the cause of the CSFES is noble, but their methods tend to be what I would consider to be unethical and borderline immoral. No amount of innuendo and personal attacks by Rory/Stanley/Jane/Anna/etc. (notice all the posts ending with a question mark) can defend the actions of this group. In fact, I’d say these attacks demonstrate pretty accurately the standard operating procedure of the CSFES.

  18. Email to Julie on March 17th, 2009 12:29 am

    So, Julie, perhaps you can suggest what methods you deem appropriate to stop these multi-million dollar agencies from their continuous practices of abusing these exchange students? As far as many can read, the truth is prevailing and the snakes that are slithering in the grass not liking it are the very agencies that are being exposed. Too bad, I say. CSFES and concerned citizens who are exposing the truth are to be commended.

  19. David on March 18th, 2009 11:24 am

    I went to the CSFES website, and I am curious why they have not made any investigations into Two Worlds United.

  20. Jane on March 20th, 2009 10:09 pm

    David. Any concerns you have about an agency, forward them to CSFES. They’ll address all concerns that relate to the health and safety of these visiting teens.

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