Conviction of serial child molester at center of federal appeals case to set him free

The arrest of Richard A. Schmidt, a serial child molester from Maryland, was touted more than a decade ago as a major success of a law to track and punish sexual predators globally.

Now a federal appeals court must decide whether Schmidt should be set free without any monitoring.

Schmidt, who had been an elementary school teacher, was arrested several times in the 1980s for molesting young boys in Maryland and served more than a dozen years in prison. After his release in 2002, he was accused of violating parole and fled to the Philippines and later to Cambodia, according to court records.

Shortly after Schmidt arrived in Southeast Asia, Congress passed a law giving prosecutors more power to pursue U.S. citizens suspected of sexually exploiting children in foreign countries, including those involved in sex tourism.

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