(CN) – A man who was imprisoned in the Philippines for allegedly violating a child sex-abuse law waited too long to sue the Department of State for purportedly withholding records that could have set him free, a federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled.
Leon Rouse claimed that the Department of State denied access to accurate records that would have helped exonerate him from the charge that he violated a Philippine law called the Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act.
The 9th Circuit said Rouse’s action is barred by the two-year statute of limitations, because his imprisonment did not prevent him from accessing records and filing a complaint with the United Nations in 2002.
“If Rouse could lodge a complaint with that body,” Judge O’Scannlain wrote, “there is no reason he could not similarly file in federal court.”
Even if the department had filed more diplomatic protests with the Philippine government, the court ruled, it is unclear whether the protests would have resulted in Rouse’s release.
“Indeed, such claims are belied by the record itself, which demonstrates that official embassy protests in Rouse’s case were unavailing,” O’Scannlain added.
The court determined that the Privacy Act does not entitle Rouse to further diplomatic efforts.