June 25, 2004: Headlines: Crime: Molestation: COS - Costa Rica: Psychological Testing: Department of Justice: The United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California announced that Timothy Ronald Obert, age 36, was indicted yesterday for engaging in sexual relations with a minor in Costa Rica while serving there as a Peace Corps Volunteer

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Library: Peace Corps: Crime : Crime and the Peace Corps: February 2, 2006: Headlines: COS - Costa Rica: Crime: Molestation: Lawfuel: Timothy Ronald Obert pleads guilty to sexually abusing a minor while serving as Peace Corps volunteer in Costa Rica : June 25, 2004: Headlines: Crime: Molestation: COS - Costa Rica: Psychological Testing: Department of Justice: The United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California announced that Timothy Ronald Obert, age 36, was indicted yesterday for engaging in sexual relations with a minor in Costa Rica while serving there as a Peace Corps Volunteer

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-53-195.balt.east.verizon.net - 151.196.53.195) on Monday, June 28, 2004 - 11:09 am: Edit Post

The United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California announced that Timothy Ronald Obert, age 36, was indicted yesterday for engaging in sexual relations with a minor in Costa Rica while serving there as a Peace Corps Volunteer

The United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California announced that Timothy Ronald Obert, age 36, was indicted yesterday for engaging in sexual relations with a minor in Costa Rica while serving there as a Peace Corps Volunteer

The United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California announced that Timothy Ronald Obert, age 36, was indicted yesterday for engaging in sexual relations with a minor in Costa Rica while serving there as a Peace Corps Volunteer

The United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California announced that Timothy Ronald Obert, age 36, was indicted yesterday for engaging in sexual relations with a minor in Costa Rica while serving there as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

Mr. Obert, who now resides in Santa Cruz, California, was indicted by a federal grand jury on one count of traveling in foreign commerce and engaging in illicit sexual conduct with another person, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2423(c), a statute that was newly enacted on April 30, 2003 under the PROTECT Act.

According to the indictment, Mr. Obert is alleged to be a United States citizen who traveled in foreign commerce to Costa Rica in or about September of 2001 to work as a Peace Corps Volunteer. It is alleged that, while in Costa Rica in his capacity as a Peace Corps Volunteer, he knowingly and intentionally engaged in illicit sexual conduct with a minor on July 5, 2003.

On June 23, 2004, Mr. Obert was arrested in Santa Cruz. In connection with a detention hearing, government attorneys represented the following facts to the Court as a matter of the public record: The evidence showed that, while working as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Costa Rica, Mr. Obert had performed oral sex on a minor Costa Rican national on July 5, 2003 and other occasions, and that he had provided that minor with money, drugs and alcohol in conjunction with the sex acts. The minor's birth certificate showed that he was 14 years old at the time of the charged offense. Mr. Obert's birth certificate showed that he was a natural born United States citizen who was 35 years old at the time of the charged offense.

Peace Corps Online

Caption: Timothy Ronald Obert during a social gathering in Puntarenas in 2002. Photo: Al Dia of San José, Costa Rica

It was also asserted as part of the public record that Mr. Obert's resume, which he had submitted to the Peace Corps in support of his application to become a Peace Corps Volunteer, showed that he had repeatedly sought and obtained positions working with underprivileged children. Mr. Obert stated in his resume that from January - August 2000, he worked in Nicaragua and was responsible for outreach to children in need of food and medical attention; that from October - December of 1998, he worked as a Refugee Camp Volunteer in Nicaragua, post-Hurricane Mitch, where he worked directly with child victims and orphans; and that from June -August of 1998, he worked at an orphanage in Honduras.

The maximum statutory penalty for this count in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2423(c) is 30 years of imprisonment, five years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000. However, any sentence following conviction would be dictated by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of factors, and would be imposed in the discretion of the Court. An indictment simply contains allegations against an individual and, as with all defendants, Mr. Obert must be presumed innocent unless and until convicted.

Mr. Obert made his initial appearance in federal court in San Jose on June 23, 2004. He was detained without bail pending a detention hearing on June 28, 2004, at 12:00 p.m. before Judge Trumbull. The defendant's next scheduled appearance is at 2:00 p.m., on June 24, 2004, for an Identification of Counsel Hearing before Judge Trumbull.

The prosecution is the result of a year-long investigation by Immigration & Customs Enforcement ("ICE"), with assistance from the ICE Panama Attache Office, the Department of State, the Peace Corps Office of Inspector General, and the Organismo de Investigacion Judicial of Costa Rica. Shawna Yen is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case with the assistance of legal technician Tracey Andersen.

U.S. Attorney Kevin V. Ryan said, "This is one of the first PROTECT Act prosecutions and also one of the few prosecutions of a Peace Corps volunteer for crimes allegedly committed during service in a foreign country. I would like to thank ICE, the Peace Corps Inspector General, and the authorities in Costa Rica for their invaluable assistance in this prosecution.

We will work around the clock to identify and hold accountable alleged pedophiles who think they are free to commit child sex crimes in other countries," said Charles Simonsen, San Francisco ICE Acting Special Agent-in-Charge. "ICE has made this type of investigation a priority within our agency under a program called Operation Predator, and has extended significant resources toward thwarting this serious criminal offense."

A copy of this press release may be found on the U.S. Attorney's Office's website at www.usdoj.gov/usao/can. Related court documents and information may be found on the District Court website at www.cand.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.cand.uscourts/gov.

All press inquiries to the U.S. Attorney's Office should be directed to Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew J. Jacobs at (415) 436-7181.







Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: Department of Justice

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Costa Rica; Crime; Molestation

PCOL25050
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By Laura Mills (63-93-101-134.oak.mcn.org - 63.93.101.134) on Thursday, July 01, 2004 - 1:51 pm: Edit Post

After reading about PC's actions in the aftermath of Deb Gardner's murder, I hope that PC will NOT take any actions to try to protect this guy. All persons, PCVs or not, should be held responsible for their actions.

Laura Mills, Thailand 82-84, Nepal 84-86

By khseymour (gw01-chv-nc-209-111-98-94.rasserver.net - 209.111.98.94) on Thursday, July 01, 2004 - 8:38 pm: Edit Post

RE: Peace Corps Chrged with sex crime.
It is my sincere hope that this person's readjistmant allowance and other Peace Corps benefits are being withheld until this matter is cleared up. If not, I hope that if he is found guilty that he is not only given the maximum penalty for this crime, but that he is also forced to pay Peace Corps back the readjustment payment that he was alloted.

It is also my hope tha once he has stood trial here in the states, that he go to trial in Costa Rica.

I work with children here in the states,and am a former Peace Corps volunteer who was medically seperated. and hopes to return someday as volunteer.

After reading the article, it is my concern (I am also a journalist) that other peace corps volunteers may ahve either known or at least suspected that this was going on. I hope that Peace Corphs has investigated or plans to invesitigate this aspect of the Time. (I a, also a studying to be a para-legal for an advocacy a lawyer, and hope to go into adovcacy law as a lwayer someday)While I am no legal expert, I would imagie that if other Peace Corps volunteers did know this was happening, that they may be able to be charged as accesories during and/or after the fact.

It outrages me as both a person and a man that this could happen, and if I had my say this person (if found guilty) would be forced to undergo chemical castration. I work with abused children through various volunteer organizations, and I can honestly say that the emotional damage that this person has done will likely be carried around for a very longtime. what is even sorse is that this man did this "as a peace Corps volunteer."

There is no room for people suchas this in such a philanthropic organization!

Keith Howard Seymour
Peace Corp-Philippines
march-september 2001

By Terry Josiah (cache-ntc-aa03.proxy.aol.com - 198.81.26.8) on Saturday, July 03, 2004 - 4:44 am: Edit Post

Why is he being charged in the United States?
Since Costa Rica is not in Americas jurisdiction, what crime did he commit in the US?

He has the right, RIGHT, to confront the witnesses against him.
If the victims are not available for cross examination, how can the US attorney charge him with a crime?

This is wrong. If he committed a crime in Costa Rica, then he should stand trial in Costa Rica.
This is unconstitutional.

By RPCV (214.41.171.66.subscriber.vzavenue.net - 66.171.41.214) on Saturday, July 03, 2004 - 12:29 pm: Edit Post

Terry - ???

Did you read the article? This law was enacted to discourage such predatory travel and to protect children from sexual exploitation, in cooperation with the UN's charters on human rights and children's rights. This 35-year old man is charged with giving money, drugs and alcohol to a 14-year old child to perform oral sex! PLUS, he was in service as an American PCV!

There is a huge problem with sex tourism, persons opportunistically taking aid/refugee work for predatory reasons, and for trafficking in general. And PC certainly cannot in any way condone or ignore this problem when it arises within its own ranks. It must act forcefully and cooperate with other organizations to prevent and punish such activities. These acts violate PC tenants and US and international law.

With cooperation among countries, evidence and witnesses can be made available for due process. Granted, this man is innocent until proven guilty. Fortunately for him, he's an American citizen in America, where he shall receive a fair trial.

By Steve Traylor (151.204.208.211) on Saturday, July 03, 2004 - 2:52 pm: Edit Post

We cannot be assured that this man will receive a fair trial as long as Ashcroft is Attorney General. Terry's point is well taken.

If this law had been in force during my term of service half of the male volunteers I served with could potentially have been charged.

By Steve Traylor (151.204.208.211) on Saturday, July 03, 2004 - 2:56 pm: Edit Post

We cannot be assured that this man will receive a fair trial as long as Ashcroft is Attorney General. Terry's point is well taken.

If this law had been in force during my term of service half of the male volunteers I served with could potentially have been charged.

By RPCV (36.37.171.66.subscriber.vzavenue.net - 66.171.37.36) on Saturday, July 03, 2004 - 3:54 pm: Edit Post

Your first statement is political. Okay, you don't like Ashcroft ... or apparently the congress that passed the Protect Act.

I sincerely hope your last and rather disturbing statement about male PCVs during your service is merely based on a misunderstanding of the Protect Act of 2003 as regards their activities. Following is just one of many articles, this one from World Vision's we site:

"U.S. Congress Passes Sweeping
Child Protection Legislation

On April 10, 2003, the U.S. Congress passed the PROTECT Act (Prosecuting Remedies and Tools Against the Exploitation of Children Today Act of 2003). This legislation, which is on its way to the President for signature, provides a number of new measures that will protect children from sexual exploitation.

Endorsed by World Vision, the PROTECT Act establishes the national "Amber Alert" network and "Code Adam" systems to recover abducted children, stronger laws to combat child pornography and exploitation, increased penalties for sex offenses against children (including life imprisonment for repeat offenders) and important enhancements to current "sex tourism" laws. "These and other measures included in the bill are a tremendous victory for children and child advocates," stated Joseph Mettimano, Child Protection Policy Advisor with World Vision.

Of particular interest are the enhancements to U.S. sex tourism laws that impact many of the children World Vision serves in developing countries. World Vision has advocated for these changes to current U.S. law in order to better protect children abroad from American pedophiles that travel to poor countries to engage in sex with minors. The PROTECT Act strengthens existing U.S. law by increasing imprisonment penalties to 30 years for convicted sex tourists, criminalizing persons or organizations that assist or organize sex tours, and better enabling federal prosecutors to convict offenders by modifying burden of proof requirements. In addition, the new law establishes parallel penalty enhancements that apply to the production of child pornography overseas.

"We applaud Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) for their outstanding leadership in creating this new law," said Mettimano. "The sexual exploitation of children is an abomination and should not be tolerated anywhere. The United States has a duty to convict and punish any U.S. citizen that travels abroad to sexually abuse children."

This year, World Vision is launching a sex tourism prevention program in the United States. This project will utilize the media, Internet and partnerships with the U.S. travel and tourism industry to deter U.S. citizens from sexually exploiting children overseas, and in the United States. This new law will provide a stronger foundation for succeeding in this work.

Each year millions of children are sexually exploited through pornography and prostitution in countries such as Cambodia, Costa Rica, Thailand, India and the United States. Organized "sex tours" for Americans and others traveling abroad exacerbates this problem. A survey conducted in December 2001 by World Vision and the Cambodian Government indicates that Western pedophiles accounted for about 38 percent of all child sex offenders in three principle destinations for tourists in Cambodia. ECPAT (End Child Prostitution, Pornography and Trafficking of Children) estimates that 25 percent of sex tourists worldwide are U.S. citizens. "

By RPCV (12.161.42.132) on Monday, July 12, 2004 - 11:10 am: Edit Post

If this person has actually committed the crimes as stated, I hope he is found guilty and serves maximum time and then is send to stand trail in Costa Rica. To commit these crimes is unforgivible, but to use Peace Corps as a cover is even more dispicable. I hope he gets the maximum time and his benefits are removed.

By Anonymous (pool-70-18-104-9.alb.east.verizon.net - 70.18.104.9) on Monday, February 13, 2006 - 1:55 am: Edit Post

All crimes should be prosecuted in the countries or areas where they took place. To do otherwise opens the door to an abuse of power by any country or government. Could an American citizen be charged in China for being a union member in Detroit?

By MajorOz (66.112.14.95.dyn.centurytel.net - 66.112.14.95) on Monday, February 13, 2006 - 7:55 pm: Edit Post

First, let me make it clear that this guy is disgusting and should be punished under some jurisdiction for those terrible deeds -- especially so, as he was tasked with aiding these very same children.
That said, I find it somewhat humerous to observe many fellow RPCV's supporting a portion of the dreaded Patriot Act.

cheers

oz

By E. Joan Glowa (170.97.167.60) on Wednesday, March 01, 2006 - 10:55 am: Edit Post

This is totally disgusting--a volunteer at age 35 to engage in sexual relations with a minor. He knew when we join the Peace Corps we not only represent our own character but the United States Government and that we were to do nothing to cause a problem with our Governments and to be an example.

I went in about the first group (300) to Ethiopia under President Kennedy 1962-4, and I don't think any had a problem except one, who had a sexual relationship with an American missionary's servant's daughter. Fortunately, the missionary looked out for the African family, and they sent that blond Peace Corp male home immediately not to finish out his tour giving medical shots to the Ethiopians.

By Cal Jones (ip70-181-177-5.sd.sd.cox.net - 70.181.177.5) on Wednesday, March 01, 2006 - 12:20 pm: Edit Post

The various legal issues presented by this case should be raised, explored, explained, argued... not shied away from nor poo-pawed. It is often said we are a nation of law, that part of our primary foundation and tradition is the "rule of law". That being said, it is still more fundamental than posturing that we actually practice and condone the practice of following that tradition. In short, practicing what we preach is by far a very important legacy of our tradition. Furthermore, a fundamental pillar of this legal tradition is that what we preach and practice is subject to open discussion and on a level that non-lawyers understand. In fact,the fact that our legal tradition is so well accepted is most likely due to how open and accessible it is to all people. Let the discussion continue, keep an open mind. And recognize that it is often legal technicalities that guarantee our freedoms.

By Mustaf (147.31.4.43) on Wednesday, March 01, 2006 - 1:14 pm: Edit Post

A freak slipped through the cracks in PC screening. With all the beautiful women and prostitutes that Central America has to offer, it is nauseating to think that there are men out there trying to hook up with little boys. Yuck! Lock that fool up! (In a decrepid, third world jail!)

By Anonymous (65.102.12.246) on Wednesday, March 01, 2006 - 2:02 pm: Edit Post

Yikes
"A freak slipped through the cracks in PC screening. With all the beautiful women and prostitutes that Central America has to offer, it is nauseating to think that there are men out there trying to hook up with little boys. Yuck! Lock that fool up! (In a decrepid, third world jail!) "

Add a little homophobia to the mix

By bob (68-112-111-154.static.fdul.wi.charter.com - 68.112.111.154) on Wednesday, March 01, 2006 - 2:49 pm: Edit Post

Although this guy was a PC volunteer, I believe the local people will see him as a common pervert, not as a official US Peace corps sponsored pervert.

Any branch of endevour can (and does) come up with defective people. Although he was a PCV, I don't think he really gives the Peace Corps, as a whole a black eye...

I do believe though that he should be subjected to the justice system of the country where the offense occured.

By CR Gardner (211.220.166.64) on Wednesday, March 01, 2006 - 5:17 pm: Edit Post

I believe the age of consent in Costa Rica is 15 years old. The young man may have lied about his age. There may have been no case in Costa Rica. Under US law the age of consent varies from 16 to 18; ergo, prosecution is easily obtainable. I basically fear the precedent here for I can think of many things that volunteers may do in their apartments -- smoking marijuana, reading pornography, visiting adult websites, engaging in homosexual activities, engaging in anal sex (sorry to be so explicit) -- that could be punishable under US or foreign law if a fellow volunteer reported it.

By R. L. dervin (adsl-66-73-167-244.dsl.chcgil.ameritech.net - 66.73.167.244) on Wednesday, March 01, 2006 - 4:18 pm: Edit Post

I basically agree with the message that if this fellow is found guilty by any of the jurisdictions, this person should be punished severely. In reading through the various messages I find a lot of righteous anger but in fairness, I have to say that this episode would be very unususal in any sampling of Peace Corps vols. in any country. I served in the Philippines form 2002 to 2004 and am convinced that if any PCV had any inkling of what was going on, this guy would have been reported, be brought to country headquarters and cashiered immediately. Even the appearance of illegal or illicit activity would be dealt with. I am sorry for the young man and I sincerely hope his and his neighbors' image of the Peace Corps and the U.S. can be salvaged

By Anonymous (cr.peacecorps.gov - 200.122.159.208) on Thursday, March 16, 2006 - 9:15 am: Edit Post

I believe that people need to remember that as a PCV you ARE a government 'worker' and if the PC (a govt agecy) is covering your expenses (and my tax dollars are paying for that)for renting an apartment, house, etc. than you are legally committing a crime on American soil.
The PROTECT ACT (whether you agree with it or not) is in place to PROTECT children. Each country where a crime is committed has the right to deny the US jurisdiction or can cooperate to have an individual tried in the states. As many of you know the vast majority of countries where these crimes are committed (and where PC is) do not have the infrastructure/resources, etc. to carry out such acts of justice (THANK GOODNESS AMERICA WILL PROTECT CHILDREN!!!).

And to CR Gardner- get your facts straight about the legal age of consent in CR- it is not 15 and it does not matter if the minor lied- he is still a minor.

Kudos to the PCV who reported this- talk about professional and personal INTEGRITY- perhaps if we had more people protecting children we would not have the problems we have in the world today!!!

By CR Gardner (125.248.157.34) on Tuesday, March 28, 2006 - 1:25 am: Edit Post

To Anonymous:
I typed "I believe the age of consent in Costa Rica is 15 years old," not "The age of consent . . . is 15 years old." If you wish to be helpful and post the exact age of consent please do so, instead of a crass comment about "getting my facts straight"; as I only stated an unverified supposition as is perfectly standard and correct English (e.g., I believe the store is on the corner of 5th and Main -- which is in no way stating a fact!!).

This to me is the crux of the matter since some cultures have an age of consent as young as 13 years old!

By BF Ingber (199.133.80.226) on Wednesday, April 26, 2006 - 8:51 am: Edit Post

To CR Gardner: you disgust me! Your comments are just a ruse to to get this pedophile off the hook. Whatever actions he is accused of, he didn't begin his "activities" in Costa Rica. His problem is he's finally been caught. There's no place for pedophiles in Peace Corps or anyplace else in respectable society. As for Mustaf, there are more heterosexual pedophiles than homosexual, this has nothing to do with the depravity.

By Anonymous (user-24-214-32-99.knology.net - 24.214.32.99) on Monday, September 18, 2006 - 12:47 pm: Edit Post

What struck me in the article was that it implied that the guy should have been screened because he had "repeatedly sought and obtained positions working with underprivileged children". I'm guessing doing so might screen out some innocent people with skills and experience in this field who don't happen to be pedophiles. And yes this man should be prosecuted under the full extent of the law. And no matter how heinous the crime it should be a fair trial.

By Anonymous (s0106000e7f2bc14d.ed.shawcable.net - 68.148.43.200) on Monday, December 04, 2006 - 3:06 am: Edit Post

there is an ancient word speaking about men like this, and it goes like this: Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame: wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. The other saying speaks about the vengence of eternal fire. Both quotes were inspired by Jesus

By Anonymous (s0106000e7f2bc14d.ed.shawcable.net - 68.148.43.200) on Monday, December 04, 2006 - 3:05 am: Edit Post

there is an ancient word speaking about men like this, and it goes like this: Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame: wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. The other saying speaks about the vengence of eternal fire. Both quotes were inspired by Jesus

By Anonymous (cache-ntc-ac07.proxy.aol.com - 207.200.116.136) on Sunday, October 07, 2007 - 3:43 pm: Edit Post

All should be held accountable to the laws where they are, not U.S. laws. We have the right to tell other countries what their laws should b e, but do not have the right to insist that they follow our laws. We extoll Greek philosophers like Plato and Socrates but they too would be considered pedophiles by our modern standards. Jesus may have inspired people to the quote mentioned above, although he did so unwittingly, at least in his earthly lifetime. In fact, there is no known evidence of him making a comment on this topic. Most of our sex hangups came from Paul, many years after Jesus death.

By Anonymous (pool-71-243-40-70.bos.east.verizon.net - 71.243.40.70) on Wednesday, March 26, 2008 - 8:19 pm: Edit Post

Hi

I dont know anything about this case, but I would reserve judgment and hope that this guy gets a fair trial. I served in the peace corps in costa rica in the early 1980s. I was 21 when I started. I had a great experience and worked in the schools with young kids. I had a close 22 year old friend that lived with a 14 year old girl during our time in the corps. They later married and are still together 25 years later. In the 1980s when I was in Costa Rica most teen age old girls were living with men (or boys) in my town. Close to 100% of the young woman had kids before they were 17. (It was different in the cities.) Virtually no one was married in the area where I lived. It was a very different culture. I think there is a fundamental difference between the volunteers integrating into communities, falling in love, etc. and the tourists that come to CR in search of the sex trade. Again, I dont know anything about this guy, but I knew many young men in love with Costa Rican teenagers when I served and they technically broke the law. None were pedophiles

DC

By tom sims (h-68-164-14-242.chcgilgm.dynamic.covad.net - 68.164.14.242) on Thursday, June 05, 2008 - 7:12 am: Edit Post

simple this wont go far the age of consent is 16 most of Europe and all over Canada as well as the Netherlands in theses country's sex with a 16 year old is no crime the local police will not investigate it now the us has no right to investigate this aka no wittnes have to come forward
no search no dna test all in all a 16 year old girl say you had sex with her your guilty

ets sat i donít tip a hotel staff enough he pays a 14 year old girl to open my door with his key card and jump on my bed naked with me whele im watching tv or sleeping and takes a photo of us together how would i fight this in court
when the 14 year old girl tells us counselers that we had sex and thare is a photo to go with it

now if the us gives someone a fair trial then they must have also voilated someone else right to privacy

if a girl has the right to say yes by cost rica law and by us law outside of the us you can not accpet her offer that is akin to

to India arresting us tourists for consuming beef outside of India

under India law it is a crime to consume beef aka cows are divine

if a girl from iran is seen with out her birka in public in the us will she be prosecuted for that when she returns and frist and foremost would the us goverment help investigate this alleged crime

but we are now asking other country's to do just that help enforce our law in there country if we detest thare morals so much then restrict travel

but we would isolate our selves cause we are the ones just a bit outside the norm and want every to one act by our standards because we a egotistical
and self centered

By Vivo (41.204.111.27) on Wednesday, December 17, 2008 - 1:16 pm: Edit Post

NO man or woman has the right to hurt children. I think the man deserves to be punished!


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