The criminal trial of Serob Der-Boghossian got underway yesterday in a Vanadzor court.
The American-Armenian businessman, who is the CEO of Metal Prince Ltd., has been charged with engaging in involuntary sexual acts with minors. Let's get a bit more specific.
During the pre-trial examination of the case, the specific charge was Article 140 of the RA Criminal Code.
Article 140 - Forced violent sexual acts
Forcing a person to sexual intercourse, homosexuality, lesbianism or other sexual actions, by means of black mail, threats to destroy, damage or seize property, or using the financial or other dependence of the aggrieved, is punished with a fine in the amount of 200 to 300 minimal salaries, or correctional labor for up to 2 years, or with imprisonment for the term of up to 1 year.
The maximum sentence for anyone found guilty of this charge is 3 years.
However, the charges against Der-Boghossian were later upgraded to Article 139 (Part 2, Point 3) and (Part 3)
Article 139 - Violent sexual actions
Homosexual, lesbian or other sexual actions against the aggrieved, by using force against the latter or other persons, or threat of using force, or by taking advantage of the aggrieved person's helplessness, are punished with an imprisonment for the term of 3 to 6 years – where the aggrieved is a minor.
The actions mentioned in part 1 or 2 of this Article done against an aggrieved under 14 years of age, is punished with an imprisonment for the term of 8 to 15 years.
An excerpt of the indictment against Der-Boghossian reads:
"During the pre-trial examination, evidence brought forth proves that Serob Der-Boghossian, during the years 2004-2010 in the town of Akhtala, in order to engage in homosexual acts and other sexual activities, used a variety of pretexts, including organizing scouting camps and camping excursions, to weed out vulnerable and mostly fatherless boys with an attractive appearance, and, in an attempt to entice them, gifted them large sums of money, even up to 100,000 AMD..."
So, it turns out, that for six years straight, Der-Boghossian was engaging in sexual acts with minors in this small, close-knit, Armenian town.
And the police had no clue? Evidently not, for nothing was done to stop the businessman's sexual dalliances.
All the while, Der-Boghossian rose up the business ladder of success and made friends in high places. He doled out monetary contributions to top government officials and received commendations and awards as a result. Der-Boghossian was even an honorary adviser to Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan.
In the accompanying photo he is seen shaking hands with Alik Sargsyan, Chief of the RA Police.
Armenia's National Security Service, the agency investigating the matter, surely is aware of these links. Not surprisingly, no references are to be found in the case files presented in court.
The local Alaverdi Police have taken no steps to obtain any information regarding Der-Boghossian's activities while living and working in their backyard.
They have done nothing because they got their "piece of the pie". Two months ago Hetq obtained a recording in which he Alaverdi Police Chief tells local residents that Der-Boghossian has donated $15,000 for the repair of the police headquarters.
The "gift" was never registered. Police Chief Sargsyan has stated that the money was a charitable contribution made to the police.
This needs to be investigated. Just how much money did Der-Boghossian "contribute" in order to get a seat on the Police Department's Public Advisory Council?
Did Der-Boghossian make a similar contribution in order to be chosen as an "advisor" to the prime minister as well?
These were payments that should have gone to paying off the mine workers in Der-Boghossian's company. On average, they get monthly salaries ranging from 50,000 – 60,000 AMD. ($140 - $170)
Attorneys representing the aggrieved parties (the boys and their families), must also demand financial compensation.
Manuk Mkrtchyan, the Education Deputy Minister, once intervened in the case of one of Der-Boghossian's "boys" who had been absent from class a staggering 250 times. Avetisyan wrote a letter to the boy's principal preventing his expulsion.
Why did the minister get personally involved? Does he lie awake at night, concerned about the plight of young boys in far-off Alaverdi?
Or maybe the minister was also paid-off by Der-Boghossian to personally clean-up the matter.
The principals of all these schools attended by these boys must also be dismissed if they knew what was going on but said nothing. Many of these schools also received largess from Der-Boghossian.
And what about the businessman's bodyguards? They were the ones who guaranteed Der-Boghossian's unhindered sexual escapades. They too should stand trial.
Tragically, it appears that none of these issues will be taken up by the court.
They may have caught the perpetrator but his "partners in crime" have little to worry about.