Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Wayne Nelson Corliss - Molests boys in Thailand and plays Santa Claus in New Jersey

"This individual engaged in among the most
depraved conduct imaginable with helpless children"

A New Jersey actor who also played Santa Claus at children's parties and fairs admitted today that he traveled to Thailand to have sex with young boys and videotaped at least one tryst that was later circulated on the Internet.

Wayne Nelson Corliss, 59, confessed to his crimes in graphic detail during a hearing before U.S. District Judge Joseph Greenaway in Newark.

Corliss said he was invited to Thailand by another pedophile he met in 2000 through an Internet chatroom called "Boy Love and Chat?" He said the other man told him he could have sex with a boy for $200 the first time and $20 thereafter.

Corliss, a Union City resident, said he traveled to Thailand three times between 2000 and 2002 and had sex with a 6-year old and a 9-year old. He also admitted storing and possessing more than 600 images of child pornography on his home computer and that he used the internet to share child pornography.

"This individual engaged in among the most depraved conduct imaginable with helpless children," U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie said.

Corliss was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents at his apartment in May after an international manhunt. During an investigation of another alleged pedophile, authorities discovered images of Corliss on that suspect's computer. The images were allegedly taken during Corliss' last trip to Thailand and showed him engaged in sex with a child, authorities said.

Interpol, the international police agency, released sanitized versions of the images, asking for the public's help in identifying the man in them. Within two days, hundreds of leads poured in from around the world, including three emails from the United States identifying the man as Casey Wayne, Corliss' stage name.

"Others involved in illicit sex tourism should take notice: Just like Mr. Corliss, law enforcement around the globe has the ability to locate you, prosecute you and send you to federal prison for a very long time," Christie said.

Although the charges were shocking, authorities said Corliss is just one of thousands of men who travel to Southeast Asia each year to have sex with children.

Corliss, appearing in court wearing a green prison uniform, pleaded guilty to one count of producing child pornography, three counts of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography.

He faces between 21 years and 27 years in prison under a plea agreement brokered with federal prosecutors, Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee Vartan said. He faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years behind bars.

Corliss, a white-haired, bespectacled man with a trimmed beard, appeared nervous during today's hearing.

"Oh boy, yes. Yes, your honor," Corliss, who has been held without bail since his arrest, said after the judge asked him if he understood the implications of his plea agreement.

Corliss also implicated three other men: John Wrenshall, a Canadian citizen and resident of Thailand who allegedly arranged for the trysts, and Mitchell Jackson and Burgess Lee Burgess, both of Alabama, who allegedly traveled with Corliss and also assaulted young boys.

Burgess and Jackson have been indicted and are awaiting trial. Wrenshall remains under investigation, authorities said.

Corliss has appeared in small theater productions in Manhattan and at least three movies, among them the 1982 film "Waitress." His most steady work was playing Santa Claus and other characters at children's parties, family-friendly corporate gatherings and fairs in New Jersey. Authorities said they have no evidence he victimized anyone in New Jersey.

Teri Paris and Judy Squire, two friends, attended today's court hearing to support Corliss. They said they had worked with him in the entertainment business and that he was a decent person who suffered from a sickness.

"We have worked on these Santa Claus gigs with him for years," Squire said. "Children adore him. Parents find him enormously entertaining. He kept this part of his life completely locked away."

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