Scott McMahon was held in a packed jail in the Philippines for 5 years while he awaited trial for a crime he insisted he had no part in. This past month, the man, originally from Seattle, was acquitted of two rape charges in Manila. The court noted discrepancies in the accuser’s statements and therefore questioned the individual’s credibility in the case against McMahon.
Although the acquittal is a relief for Scott McMahon, he is not completely scott free. McMahon has not been allowed to leave the Philippines due to having been detained for a 5-year period, which means that there are concerns that he could be rearrested in the near future due to the $3,000 fine he owes the Bureau of Immigration for his expired visa.
Seattle Man Imprisoned Five Years In The Philippines Declared Innocent, But Now He Can’t Leave The Country https://t.co/q5CupbsToB
— averyl minori (@AverylMinori) August 12, 2016
The organization assisting people who face legal problems abroad states that McMahon would not have owed any money if he had not been wrongfully incarcerated for 5 years. Scott McMahon was jailed in 2011 and his visa expired in 2013 while behind bars. The Bureau of Immigration is charging Scott $1,000 for every year that the visa has been expired.
Eric Volz, who is the director of the David House Agency, told the Washington Post that the organization has been providing services to McMahon at no charge.
McMahon has opted to appeal the fine and Volz has been in communication with Scott and his family as well as his attorneys in the Philippines. Scott will not have to pay the fine if he is successful in his appeal. The process is a lengthy one however. For this reason, the family is choosing to initially pay the fine to avoid arrest.
The Washington Post outlines the situation and the family’s fears.
“Although there isn’t a warrant out for McMahon, his family remains concerned about another arrest after U.S. Embassy officials in Manila confirmed the risk. If arrested, McMahon will be detained until his immigration case has been resolved. And the longer it takes to clear the fine, the greater the likelihood of an arrest.”
Antonette Mangrobang, spokesperson for the Bureau of Immigration, shares that the agency has to collect the fines from individuals who have overstayed their welcome in a country they are visiting. She continued to explain that if McMahon submits a formal request for the fines to be waived, Commissioner Jaime Morente will make the final decision as to the penalty.
Our pro-bono client, Scott McMahon, was declared innocent of all charges today! We are filled with joy and relief. pic.twitter.com/QgUgdvymoV
— David House Agency (@TheDavidHouse) August 2, 2016
Mangrobang spoke of McMahon’s very unique situation and the likelihood of an arrest.
“To date, the Bureau’s Legal Department has not received any request from Mr. McMahon,” Mangrobang said. She added that foreigners who have overstayed and come to the agency to settle outstanding fines or penalties “will not be arrested absent any other immigration violation.”
Volz stated that the United States government should communicate with the government in the Philippines to make them aware that the fine against McMahon is invalid.
“He’s entitled to at least some public display of support from the U.S. government. We’re asking the U.S. government to do whatever’s needed for him to get on a plane as soon as possible.”
Scott McMahon had moved to the Philippines in 2013 and has two children with his fiancée, Marnelli Abad of the Philippines. Due to the circumstance, the couple has not been able to legally marry. Scott is also still legally married to another woman from the Philippines with whom he shares a son. He and his wife went their separate ways long ago, yet the divorce is not legal in the Philippines.
McMahon’s mother, Shelley Campanella, has done all she can and asked for a meeting with the U.S. ambassador to the Philippines, but has yet to be given one. An official has shared that the agency is aware of McMahon’s situation, but that the department is unable to provide any immediate and direct legal assistance or to “intervene in foreign legal cases.”
[Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images]