Florida Attorney Deported To The United States After Being Charged With Sexually Abusing Children In Cambodia

Tampa, Florida – United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces the return from Cambodia of Rugh James Cline (40, Tampa) for his first appearance after being charged in a federal indictment with five counts of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign place and one count of possessing child sex abuse materials. If convicted, Cline faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison for each count of engaging in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign place, and up to 20 years’ imprisonment for possessing child sex abuse materials. Cline made his initial appearance in federal court on June 7, 2023, in Tampa. On June 26, 2023, a bond hearing was held, and Cline was released on GPS monitoring, home detention, and a $100,000 signature bond. Cline is also not allowed to have access to the internet or to minors while on home detention.

According to the indictment, in February and May 2019, Cline, a U.S. citizen and Florida-licensed attorney living in Tampa, traveled to Cambodia. While in Cambodia, he paid to engage in sexual conduct on multiple occasions with four minors. The indictment also charges Cline with having traveled from the Middle District of Florida to Cambodia while knowingly possessing materials depicting the sexual abuse of young children.

An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the U.S. Department of State and the Cambodian National Police. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided assistance. The case will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ilyssa M. Spergel.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. 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 locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.

Originally published at https://www.justice.gov/usao-mdfl/pr/florida-attorney-deported-united-states-after-being-charged-sexually-abusing-children

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