Taught English in Bangkok & Pattaya for 19 years
A convicted American pedophile who split his time in Pattaya and Bangkok teaching English was finally apprehended after being on the run for 19 years.
Dennis G. Catron, 60, was taken into custody by Chonburi Immigration Police and U.S. embassy officials outside his Nonthaburi condominium June 29. The former Illinois schools superintendent was convicted and sentenced in abstensia in 1994 to 36 years in prison for sexually abusing a 13-year-old for six months in 1991.
Dennis Gale Catron (seated) was finally apprehended after being on the run for 19 years.
Catron fled to Thailand after a plea-bargain dispute between judges in two Illinois counties allowed him to be released on bail. Police have been searching for him ever since.
Since then, Catron has been living in Thailand teaching English for the Mahidol Institute of Language in Sriracha, among other schools. Immigration Police Superintendent Col. Chousak Panat-amporn said he’d been splitting time between an apartment on Pattaya’s Soi Buakaow and in Bangkok.
Working with the U.S. Diplomatic Security Office, which canceled his passport, Immigration Police voided his visa and turned him over to U.S. marshals for deportation back to the U.S. where he will be handed over to the Illinois Department of Corrections to begin serving his jail term.
Catron originally was arrested in June 1991 at his home in the Vermillion County, Ill. town of Hoopeston after the father of a boy from nearby Ludlow filed a complaint accusing Catron of sexually abusing their son for half a year. Catron had been superintendent of schools in both Ludlow and Hoopeston.
He had already been under investigation in neighboring Champaign County and was eventually charged and acquitted of abusing a 6-year-old boy. Charges were also filed for sexual abuse of the same 13-year-old from Ludlow.
Following his release on bail, Catron vanished until mid-1992, when he turned himself in voluntarily to Vermilion County authorities. Champaign prosecutors, however, had already worked out a plea agreement on lesser charges that would keep him in jail. A judge, however, refused to go along with the deal, saying it might prevent Vermillion authorities from prosecuting him on more-serious charges.
When the deal fell apart, Catron was released again on $50,000 bail and promptly fled the country.
According to local Illinois media reports, police there always suspected he fled to Thailand and, in fact, Thai officials quoted said he never changed his name and freely admitted to neighbors that he was wanted by U.S. authorities. Mahidol and other English schools obviously never did background checks.
“We have been actively pursuing him since he left,” Vermilion County Sheriff Pat Hartshorn told the Eastern Illinois News-Gazette. “We did not give up on this and have worked with several federal agencies to try and locate him, and we’re happy that the U.S. Marshals this time were able to get cooperation from the Thailand government.”