AP

Marshallese president applauds arrest in adoptions case

Oct 17, 2019, 2:55 PM
Marshallese president...
FILE - In this Sept. 23, 2019, file photo, Marshall Islands' President Hilda Heine addresses a summit at the United Nations General Assembly. The president of the Republic of the Marshall Islands is applauding U.S. authorities for arresting an Arizona elected official accused of running an illegal adoption scheme involving pregnant Marshallese women. President Heine issued a statement Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, saying people like Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen have been inducing Marshallese women for too long. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow, File)
(AP Photo/Jason DeCrow, File)

PHOENIX (AP) — The president of the Republic of the Marshall Islands on Thursday applauded U.S. authorities for arresting an Arizona elected official accused of running an illegal adoption scheme involving pregnant Marshallese women.

President Hilda Heine spoke out a week after Maricopa County Assessor Paul Petersen was arrested on charges in three states that include human smuggling, sale of a child and fraud.

“Marshallese women have been induced by people like Petersen and his ilk for too long,” Heine said in a statement released by the Marshallese government.

Prosecutors say Petersen and his associates recruited Marshallese women who were paid up to $10,000 to come to the United States, where they were crammed into houses to wait to give birth and provide their babies for adoption.

Petersen’s lawyer has denied wrongdoing on the part of his client.

Investigators from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Utah attorney general’s office visited the Marshall Islands this week as part of the investigation, and authorities on the islands helped with the inquiry. Heine said she believes other illegal adoption rings are operating.

Petersen faces federal charges in Arkansas and state charges in Arizona and Utah. Authorities in Salt Lake City say there are nearly 30 pending adoptions in the three states that were being handled by Petersen’s Arizona-based law firm.

Petersen attorney Matt Long has said Petersen has deep ties and strong affection for the Marshallese community, and that the adoption work was legal.

He criticized the Marshallese government for creating an environment where people seek any opportunity to flee the islands.

“They’re not being induced, they’re not being exploited,” Long said in response to Heine’s statement. “They’re looking for any opportunity to flee the country that has abandoned them.”

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

AP

Microsoft is cutting 10,000 workers, almost 5% of its workforce, in response to "macroeconomic cond...
MATT O'BRIEN, Associated Press

Job cuts in tech sector spread, Microsoft lays off 10,000

Microsoft said in a regulatory filing Wednesday that had just notified employees of the layoffs, some of which begin immediately.
13 days ago
exxon mobil sign pictured...
SETH BORENSTEIN and CATHY BUSSEWITZ Associated Press

Study: Exxon Mobil accurately predicted warming since 1970s

Exxon said its understanding of climate change evolved over the years and that critics are misunderstanding its earlier research.
19 days ago
FILE - Protesters, supporters of Brazil's former President Jair Bolsonaro, stand on the roof of the...
The Associated Press

Brazil and Jan. 6 in US: Parallel attacks, but not identical

RIO DE JANIERO, Brazil — Enraged protesters broke into government buildings that are the very symbol of their country’s democracy. Driven by conspiracy theories about their candidate’s loss in the last election, they smashed windows, sifted through the desks of lawmakers and trashed the highest offices in the land in a rampage that lasted hours […]
21 days ago
President Joe Biden pictured...
ZEKE MILLER AP White House Correspondent

DOJ reviewing potentially classified docs at Biden center

Special counsel to the president Richard Sauber said “a small number of documents with classified markings” were discovered at the offices of the Penn Biden Center.
22 days ago
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 06: A poster advertising the launch of Prince Harry's memoir "Spare" is s...
Jill Lawless Associated Press

Prince Harry says explosive book is a bid to ‘own my story’

Prince Harry defended his decision to publish a memoir that lays bare rifts inside Britain’s royal family.
22 days ago
utah capitol, a new bill heading to lawmakers will affect the utah sex offender registry...
HANNAH SCHOENBAUM Associated Press/Report for America

States target transgender health care in first bills of 2023

After a record flow of anti-transgender legislation last year, Republican state lawmakers this year are zeroing in on questions of bodily autonomy.
24 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...
Macey's

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
Marshallese president applauds arrest in adoptions case