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Alleged American child rapist arrested in Hong Kong

Story Highlights

• Police arrest man accused of raping daughter and posting video online
• Video was one of most downloaded child pornography videos in recent years
• Kenneth Freeman's case was featured on "America's Most Wanted"
• Freeman believed to be working for a U.S.-based firm in China
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(CNN) -- A man accused of raping his daughter and posting the video online was arrested in Hong Kong, authorities said Wednesday.

Kenneth John Freeman, a former sheriff's reserve deputy in Benton County, Washington, was arrested Tuesday. He was believed to be living in the city of Suzhou, U.S. Marshals said in a statement.

Freeman, 44, had been the subject of a worldwide manhunt and was on the U.S. Marshal's list of most wanted criminals.

Freeman's daughter, now a teenager, told her story on "America's Most Wanted" in December. After the broadcast, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which had long known of a series of child pornography videos featuring an unidentified girl, linked the girl on the program to the videos, marshals said.

The video Freeman posted online became "one of the most widely downloaded child pornography videos in recent years," federal marshals said.

The alleged rape is believed to have taken place a few years ago, when the girl was between 10 and 12, according to Michael Kline, U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of Washington.

The daughter, now 17, attended a news conference in Kennewick, Washington, on Wednesday, where her stepfather, Chris Peale, praised her courage.

"Without her strength and conviction, this never would have happened," he said. "She stood up in front of America and said what had happened to her, and that's an admirable thing. We are so proud of her."

"We are rejoicing today ... we're happy. An awful man, an evil man, has been captured," Peale said.

Freeman fled the United States last year, authorities said. He was named to the U.S. Marshals' 15 most wanted fugitives list in December and was also on the most-wanted fugitives list for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

His residence in China was uncovered by a "special investigative team" with officers from U.S. Marshals, ICE, Benton County and the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service, the marshals' statement said. Freeman was believed to be working for a U.S.-based firm while in Suzhou, authorities said.

Investigators received information last month that Freeman was planning to travel to Hong Kong, leading to his arrest Tuesday, marshals said. Freeman resisted arrest, and several Hong Kong officers were hurt in a scuffle, Kline said.

Freeman faces multiple counts of child rape in the first degree from Benton County, as well as federal charges of manufacturing, possessing and distributing child pornography. He may also face charges from Hong Kong authorities, Kline told CNN.

Chinese officials had agreed to help in the Freeman case, although no extradition treaty exists between China and the United States, authorities said. An extradition treaty does exist between Hong Kong and the United States.

Freeman's extradition has yet to be sorted out, and he may face additional federal charges, Kline said.


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