ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) – A onetime informal adviser to the Trump campaign who is charged with bringing a 14-year-old Czech boy to the United States for sex failed to persuade a federal judge that the crime is too old to prosecute.
In a three-count indictment unsealed in July, prosecutors alleged that George Nader brought the boy to Washington in 2000 after being introduced by way of a European pimp. “Night after night,” the indictment alleges, Nader assaulted and exploited the boy while withholding his passport to keep control over him.
Prosecutors also claim Nader threatened the boy’s mother, telling her she would be jailed if she were to report him.
Now it is 60-year-old Nader in jail as he awaits his trial on a three-count indictment unsealed in Virginia.
Nader, who emerged in the report by special counsel Robert Mueller as a key witness, sought to nix only one of the counts against him, criminal transport of a minor for sex, based on the statute of limitations.
While a 2006 law called the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act eliminated any time limit for prosecuting certain offenses involving minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, the Lebanese-American businessman supported his motion to dismiss with records of congressional debate on the issue.
In particular, Nader drew on 2008 commentary from Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy who expressed concern that a limitless statute period would trample the rights of defendants.
Ultimately, a retroactivity provision was never inserted into the existing legislation. Nader saw this silence as “express proof” of congressional intent to cap limitations, but U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema rejected the maneuver Tuesday.
“That argument simply ignores the well-established meaning of the word ‘express,’” the 18-page opinion states.
Brinkema said Congress is authorized to expressly prescribe retroactive or only prospective application of a statute.
“The standard for express prescription is a demanding one – the prescriptive language in the statute must be … unequivocal,” Brinkema wrote.
Brinkema also emphasized that the law in place at the time Nader allegedly transported the minor for sex expressly stipulated that victims were protected through their lifetimes or within 10 years of the offense. Thus the same rules would apply to Nader’s case today, even nearly 20 years later.
Nader was initially set for trial in September, but proceedings have dragged since his arrest in June. Tuesday’s ruling came nearly three weeks after a status conference at the federal courthouse in Alexandria.
“This is difficult conduct,” Brinkema said of Nader’s charges at the Nov. 1 hearing. “We’re going to take our time. There’s no immediate pressure.”
It is expected Nader’s trial will begin in early January.
Cited dozens of times in Robert Mueller’s final report, Nader provided key details to investigators about a January 2017 meeting in the Seychelles that he helped arrange for Trump associate Erik Prince and Kirill Dmitriev, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Dmitriev runs the Kremlin’s $10 billion sovereign wealth fund, the Russian Direct Investment Fund.
Investigators believe the Trump campaign tapped Nader for his prowess as a longtime diplomatic negotiator on matters related to the Middle East.
When details of the Seychelles meeting between Prince and Dmitriev first emerged, Prince told reporters – and later Congress – that the meeting was a random, unplanned encounter that came about only because he and Dmitriev were at the same hotel meeting with similar Emirati officials.
Prince’s account didn’t jive with Nader’s, according to the Mueller report. Under questioning, Nader told the special counsel’s office Prince and Dmitriev’s meeting was planned and that the men met specifically to discuss the development of a diplomatic back channel between the Trump campaign and Moscow.