Man allegedly involved in child sex tourism arrested in St George

A suspect charged with 10 counts of sexually exploiting a minor was recently arrested in St. George.

Kenneth Merlin Richens, 60, of Nephi, was jailed in Washington County on Thursday on charges of ten second-degree felonies of sexually exploiting a minor. The indictment was brought by Utah Assistant Attorney General Carl Hollan, according to indictment documents filed in Juab County’s 4th Circuit Court last week.

According to court records, the suspect was arrested in St. George on May 4, just hours after the bail warrant was issued.

Homeland Security officials received information in March that suggested Richens was involved in “sex tourism,” according to the affidavit filed last week to support the suspect’s arrest.

In the affidavit, Department of Homeland Security investigator Holden Fielding defined sex tourism as “criminal conduct that occurs when an individual travels to another country or nation where children are frequently trafficked for the purpose of sexual abuse for the purpose of sexually abusing the children living in those countries.”

Fielding pointed out that evidence had surfaced that Richens had traveled to the Philippines 49 times since 2011. Agents noted that the suspect had traveled to other Southeast Asian countries known to be linked to sex tourism, including Thailand and Cambodia.

To read the full story, visit St. George News.

This article is published by the Utah News Collaborative, a partnership of Utah news organizations whose goal is to educate readers across the state.

Justin Scaccy

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