When Vadim Scott Benderman landed in Hanoi, Vietnam in June 2014, it was his second fresh start in an Asian country in as many years. As he had throughout his 12 years living in Asia, the longtime Canadian expatriate would make his money teaching English. The rest of his time would be spent fronting bands at bars and small live music venues, indulging dreams of rock ’n’ roll fame.
But by October, his fresh start had already turned rotten, as allegations of sexual abuse began to filter up from the streets to Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation, a nonprofit for vulnerable youth. The homeless teenagers that scraped out a bare existence in the capital couldn’t settle on one name — sometimes it was “Ben,” sometimes “Dan,” according to the charity’s founder Michael Brosowski. But they were as one in their insistence that a middle-aged foreign man was soliciting them and their peers for sex.
It would be another 15 months before Scott — Benderman being his rarely used second surname from his stepfather — was convicted of sexually abusing four homeless boys aged 13 to 15. Luring the boys to his rented home, he would pay each of his victims between $10 and $15 for sex. After an hours-long trial on Jan. 13 last year, a Hanoi court sentenced him to four years in jail.
Fifteen months might seem like an inordinate amount of time to bring a child sex offender to justice. But in Scott’s case, it is just a paragraph in a much longer, meandering saga. A months-long investigation reveals the Canadian’s conviction to be part of a winding trail of allegations and brushes with law enforcement that spans several countries and goes back at least a decade — one which Canadian authorities were informed of several times but failed to act on. Despite Canada’s official commitment to fighting child sex abuse by its citizens abroad, solidified in laws that allow prosecution for crimes committed overseas, official channels — including two foreign embassies — stand accused of failing to address reports against Scott that could have prevented child sex abuse in several countries.