David Strecker, AKA Cuba Dave, has become the first person to be convicted under Costa Rica’s Sex Tourism Law, where he now faces a five-year prison sentence.
Three San José judges declared the 66-year-old man from Key West, Florida, guilty of promoting Costa Rica as a place where foreigners can come to enjoy legal prostitution, stating he was in violation of legislation created in 2012, according to local press.
The trial that started on Tuesday only lasted for two days before the guilty verdict was decided.
Strecker has been in preventive prison since Sept. 4, 2015. Last week, he told judges that the Cuba Dave brand died on the day his imprisonment began.
“I’ve been in jail for 438 days and this is the first time I’ve been able to tell my side,” Strecker said. “I just want you to know I had no intention of doing anything to harm the country of Costa Rica.”
Prosecutor Maria Quesada requested Strecker serve a 15-year sentence for promoting sex tourism on YouTube and Facebook, as well as Cuba Dave postings on Ticaland.com.
“Although prostitution isn’t a crime here, it often coincides with psychological and physical violence,” Quesada said. “Women are treated like sexual and commercial objects, used as instruments for unhealthy pleasure.”
The first case against Strecker was opened in 2015 by the Rahab Foundation, a local NGO committed to combating human trafficking, according to lawyers and an OIJ agent who attended the trail.
The Rahab Foundation’s lawyers had previously denied that organization made the complaint or even had any knowledge of the case, according to local daily, the Tico Times.
Cuba Dave has been on his sexual escapades since the 90s, when he first visited an ailing Cuba in search of prostitutes. It was here that the Cuba Dave moniker and website was born, resulting in 54 visits to the island nation.