Anchorage, Alaska – U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder announced today that Leo James Chaplin, 62, of Anchorage, was found guilty of International Parental Kidnapping after a two-day federal bench trial. Chaplin was charged by criminal complaint June 23, 2017 in the District of Alaska and later indicted by a federal grand jury on October 18, 2019. Sentencing is scheduled for April 28, 2021 before United States District Court Judge Sharon L. Gleason.
According to evidence presented at trial, Chaplin kidnapped two children he shared with his then-spouse during a family vacation to the Philippines in November of 2014. Both children were born and lived in Anchorage prior to their kidnapping. Chaplin retained the children in the Philippines with intent to obstruct their mother’s exercise of lawful parental rights until July of 2019, a period of over four-and-a-half years. Chaplin was deported from the Philippines and returned to the United States in September of 2019. He was arraigned on the criminal complaint in the Central District of California September 25, 2019.
“There is no safe haven for parents who abduct their children and hide them in foreign countries. I cannot fathom the emotional tragedy of these separations. In this case, the mother and her children were apart for over 4 years. That is time this family will never get back,” said U.S. Attorney Schroder. “We are committed to working with the FBI and foreign governments to ensure the return of abducted children and holding the kidnappers accountable.”
“The FBI takes crimes against children seriously, including international parental kidnappings,” said Robert Britt, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Anchorage Field Office. “Chaplin sought to deprive his children’s mother of lawful parental rights, which can have a destructive impact on the entire family. These children have been returned home due to the far-reaching and combined resources of the FBI and our law enforcement partners.”
As part of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Crimes Against Children Human Trafficking Task Force, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Customs and Border Protection, United States Department of State, and United States Marshals Service conducted the investigation leading to the successful prosecution of this case. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Allison O’Leary and George Tran.
To learn more about the FBI’s Crimes Against Children Program, visit fbi.gov. For more information and resources on International Parental Kidnapping, visit DOJ’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section webpage.