Anchorage hostel owner charged with planning trips for child sex abuse

Casey Grove

The owner of an Anchorage hostel traveled to Cambodia at least a dozen times in the past four years to have sex with underage girls, according to charges filed against him in federal court.

Jason Jayavarman, owner of Jason's International Youth Hostel in Midtown, admitted Wednesday to sexually abusing 13- and 14-year-old girls, starting in 2009, the charges say. Jayavarman, 43, is accused of planning a trip this month for himself and others to have sex with children.

Jayavarman was arrested at the FBI's Anchorage division office Wednesday. Federal agents with body armor raided the Eide Street hostel in the afternoon, the hostel's manager said.

Details of the FBI investigation leading up to Jayavarman's arrest were revealed in the charges filed Thursday:

In a recorded phone conversation on April 23, Jayavarman told an undercover FBI employee that he liked "young and fresh" girls for sex. Jayavarman also said he would record videos of himself sexually abusing the girls and that he had made videos in the United States, too.

The undercover investigator posed as someone interested in a trip abroad to commit such sex acts and asked if Jayavarman would be able to "arrange for a child to be delivered to him and his friends."

Jayavarman said he could.

"Jayavarman continued by telling the (investigator) the proper way to groom a child so as not to create problems with her family or the authorities in Cambodia," the charges say. "Jayavarman explained that he knew someone who could (get) girls as young as 12 or 13 years old."

The investigator flew to Anchorage to meet with Jayavarman in a hotel room.

Jayavarman said the girls he could get were Vietnamese and told the investigator not to worry about the Cambodian police. If the police questioned anything, Jayavarman said, "give them $10 and they will go away."

He went on to discuss the best ways to make video "mementos" of the sex, including what he thought was the best camera equipment and ways to store the video and digital images.

In July, the undercover investigator and Jayavarman started planning their trip in earnest, deciding to leave Aug. 21. Jayavarman said he would get himself a girl and wanted to visit land he said he owns in Cambodia.

"(The investigator said) they were interested in young girls ages 11 or 12 and asked if this would be OK. Jayavarman stated they would find the young girls and reminded the (investigator) that this was private business and should not be talked about in public."

They met again in person on Wednesday. Jayavarman said he had purchased his ticket. Later, FBI Special Agent Steve Forrest and Anchorage detective Lenny Torres confronted Jayavarman, who admitted to having sex with underage girls.

"Jayavarman acknowledged this is illegal activity in Cambodia but stated it is cultural," the charges say.

Records subpoenaed from airlines and the Cambodian National Police matched the dates Jayavarman admitted to traveling to Cambodia to have sex with girls. He traveled there 12 times, starting in 2009.

FBI spokesman Eric Gonzalez said Jayavarman was arrested at the Anchorage district office later Wednesday.

"He was arrested by agents without a struggle," Gonzalez said. "We met with him, spoke to him, and he cooperated with us, to a point."

Gonzalez confirmed that FBI agents served a search warrant on Jayavarman's hostel. He would not comment on any involvement the hostel might have had in Jayavarman's alleged crimes, but said the investigation continues.

According to the charges, agents at the hostel seized various forms of digital media, a camera and a camcorder. In the digital files, they found "numerous" videos of Jayavarman having sex with underage girls.

Cree Biggs, who described himself as the manager of Jason's International Youth Hostel, said the agents showed up in "tactical gear," one carrying a battering ram he did not use. They showed Biggs a search warrant and told everyone to leave while they conducted their search, Biggs said.

The light-blue building has 40 beds and a strict policy of only admitting people 18 and older, Biggs said. Biggs said he was unaware of anything suspicious going on at the hostel prior to learning about Jayavarman's charges Thursday.

"He doesn't seem like that kind of guy at all," Biggs said.

Reach Casey Grove at or 257-4589.