Quepos mayor busted in child porn ring released on bond

January 6, 2012

After being arrested last month on underage pornography and embezzlement charges, Lutgardo Bolaños, mayor of Aguirre Municipality in the Central Pacific region, is out on bail. 

Bolaños, a National Liberation Party (PLN) politician and lawyer who took office in February 2011, and his driver were arrested Dec. 21 by federal agents, after a four-month investigation by the Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) implicated them in the production of pornographic videos featuring underage girls. 

An OIJ report said Bolaños and his driver used public municipality funds to rent cars to travel to poor areas of Costa Rica, where they allegedly paid young girls to participate in sex films with them. OIJ agents raided municipal offices and the homes of Bolaños and his driver. Agents seized  more  than  600  compact  discs and a computer containing pornographic videos.

Sources in the area – which includes the popular tourist towns of Manuel Antonio and Quepos – say Bolaños was released within 12 hours of his arrest after posting bail.

Boris Marchegiani, board president of the Association for Prevention, Safety and Peace in Aguirre Canton (Copaza), is organizing a forum Jan. 18 to discuss the fallout of Bolaños’ arrest and possible steps forward. Marchegiani said he wasn’t surprised to learn of the mayor’s troubles and had warned members of the PLN before Bolaños’ election in February 2011 about Bolaños’ personal conduct.

“Not one of them came forward to help this community,” Marchegiani said, referring to ruling-party officials.

Marchegiani also noted that the PLN ethics committee has not yet opened an investigation into the Bolaños matter. 

The forum organized by Marchegiani and Copaza will feature a discussion about the consequences of child sexual abuse, as well as alcoholism and substance dependence issues. Marchegiani, who talks openly about his own sexual abuse at the age of 11, said that three out of every 10 children in the canton of Aguirre are sexually abused, and of those, 70 percent have trouble with alcoholism. 

The forum will also include a march to municipal offices in Quepos, the local prosecutor’s office and a local OIJ office to show support for prosecution of the case.

Other members of the Quepos and Manuel Antonio community are trying to distance themselves from the accused mayor. Harry Bodaan, a hotel owner and president of the Business, Industry and Tourism Chamber of Aguirre, recently sent a letter to members of the chamber and the Quepos City Council addressing the subject.

The letter stated, in part: “As you can imagine, the arrest of Mayor Lutgardo Bolaños on child molestation charges and use of municipal funds to do it is having a very negative impact on our canton, not only at a national level but also internationally. The potential harm to the children of the canton is not to be underestimated if the proper steps are not taken.”

The letter adds: “Although the mayor is innocent until proven guilty, this situation cannot be tolerated, and especially we should hold those that had firsthand knowledge of this and other abuses responsible and accountable.”

At press time neither the Aguirre prosecutor’s office nor Aguirre municipal officials responded to requests for comment on Bolaños’ case.

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