Christopher Glenn, a South Florida computer expert who is already serving 10 years in prison on an espionage conviction, was found guilty of underage sex trafficking Wednesday by a federal jury after five days of deliberations.
Glenn was convicted of exploiting girls between 13 and 16 years old for sex while he was working as a computer contractor for the U.S. Department of Defense in Honduras between 2010 and 2014. The 36-year-old former West Palm Beach man now faces a mandatory prison sentence of 15 years and potentially up to life at a hearing set for mid-May.
Glenn represented himself during the monthlong federal trial in Miami, after first firing his assistant federal public defender and then dismissing another defense attorney appointed by the judge. He even demanded a Spanish interpreter to translate the proceedings, although he was born and raised in New York and spoke fluent English during his prior espionage case.
Attorney Joseph Rosenbaum, who gave the opening statement at Glenn’s trial before his client went back to representing himself, said he plans to help him on the appeal. “The jury worked long and hard during five days of deliberations,” Rosenbaum said on Wednesday. “We will be working to appeal the outcome of this case.”
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The 12-person jury, which began deliberations last Thursday, found Glenn guilty of nine counts, including conspiracy, sex trafficking of a minor, attempting to engage in sex trafficking of a minor, sexual assault of a minor and possession of child pornography. But the jury acquitted him of two counts: a conspiracy charge and attempting to engage in sex trafficking of a minor.
Glenn’s sex-trafficking trial got off to a rocky start in early February when he repeatedly told U.S. District Judge Robert Scola that he was not prepared to proceed. Scola refused to delay the trial and appointed Rosenbaum as his defense attorney, who had been on standby.
Scola accused the defendant of “clearly playing games with this court.”
Federal prosecutors Barbara Martinez and Vanessa Singh Johannes called female victims and others to testify against Glenn, whom they described as a smart, shrewd man whose crime was “to take advantage of some of the world’s poorest people.”
They asserted he recruited several Honduran village girls in their teens with enticements of money, shelter and food, then exploited them for sex — even forcing the victims to take what he called “vitamins” that caused them to “black out.” In one instance, according to trial evidence, Glenn used a “long medical stick” to penetrate the private parts of a 13-year-old girl in his home in Comayagua, 50 miles northwest of the capital, Tegucigalpa.
The prosecutors said the defendant forced a couple of the girls to marry him in sham ceremonies conducted in Arabic but did not file any paperwork with Honduran officials. After the girls left him, he tried to recruit other minors in Honduran villages.
Glenn’s private life in Honduras came to light after FBI agents questioned one of his female victims. That led not only to other victims but also to the discovery of child-porn images on his computer dating back to when he worked as a military contractor in Iraq more than a decade ago.
Eventually, the U.S. attorney’s office in South Florida charged Glenn with violating the Espionage Act for removing classified information from computers at the Army Southern Command’s Joint Task Force Bravo in Soto Cano Air Base in Honduras.
After he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 years in 2015, Glenn was charged with the sex-trafficking offenses last year.
At trial, Glenn’s attorney, Rosenbaum, initially told jurors that there was no evidence of illicit sexual activity, implying instead that prosecutors targeted him anew on sex-trafficking offenses to silence him.
Rosenbaum described Glenn as the son of Kurdish Muslims who lived for a while in Latin America, where he learned to speak English, Spanish and Arabic fluently and became a valuable government computer contractor. He said that the allegations that his marriages were a pretext for sex trafficking with teen girls were baseless and that the ceremonies were traditional Muslim weddings to young women.
After Glenn dismissed his attorney, the defendant handled the cross-examination of government witnesses, testified in his own defense and delivered his closing argument — to no avail in the end.