KIDUS AWLACHEW,age 33, a resident of New Orleans, Louisiana, was sentenced on June 13, 2023 by United States District Judge Jay Zainey to 21 months in prison, one (1) year of supervised release, including an order to stay away from the minor victim, the minor victim’s mother, and members of their family and payment of a mandatory $100 special assessment fee, after previously pleading guilty to international parental kidnapping, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1204, announced U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans. A restitution hearing has been scheduled for August 15, 2023, at 10:00 am.
According to court documents, AWLACHEW and Person 1, an adult female, began dating in about 2018. Soon thereafter, Person 1 and her daughter, Minor Victim, moved into AWLACHEW’S residence. Between 2018 and January 2022, AWLACHEW often voluntarily acted in a parental capacity toward Minor Victim .
In about December 2021, AWLACHEW told Person 1 that he wanted to take Minor Victim to Ethiopia to experience a different culture for about one month. Based on those representations, Person 1 agreed. In fact, AWLACHEW intended to keep Minor Victim in Ethiopia for more than one month.
Thereafter, AWLACHEW purchased tickets for he and Minor Victim to travel to Ethiopia on January 14, 2022, and to return on February 21, 2022. AWLACHEW and Minor Victim did not return on February 21. On numerous occasions, Person 1 inquired why AWLACHEW had not returned with Minor Victim and demanded that he do so. AWLACHEW either ignored the inquiries or provided a false justification for not returning. Moreover, AWLACHEW usually did not allow Person 1 to correspond directly with Minor Victim.
Law enforcement authorities recovered Minor Victim from AWLACHEW’S custody in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and took AWLACHEW into custody, on July 20, 2022. United States law enforcement authorities arranged for Minor Victim to be returned to New Orleans and reunited with her mother. AWLACHEW was returned to the United States on August 24, 2022.
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 the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, 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.usdoj.gov/psc. For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab “resources.”
U.S. Attorney Evans praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Department of State, and Louisiana State Police in investigating this matter. U.S. Attorney Evans also expressed appreciation for the cooperation provided by the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. Assistant United States Attorney Jordan Ginsberg, Chief of the Public Integrity Unit ,was in charge of the prosecution.
Source: Department of Justice