A U.S. citizen has been arrested in Rome on suspicion of prolific child sex abuse after he was caught raping a 14-year-old boy, according to Italian newspaper reports.
The man, said to be a 52-year-old former Boeing engineer from Chicago, has allegedly spent a month luring scores of young teenage boys to a rented apartment near the city's Termini station, which has become an epicenter for illegal immigrants, underage prostitutes, and criminal gangs.
He paid the victims - mostly North African and Romanian migrants, some Italian - between €50 and €150 for sex, the Interior Ministry told Il Messaggero.
His arrest concludes a two-week police investigation into reports that a foreign man was seen skulking around the station every night scouting young boys for sex, according to official statements.
After placing hidden cameras around the station, police said, they identified the man - known locally as 'The English' - then burst into his apartment as he was sexually abusing a 14-year-old boy.
He has been arrested and jailed, the reports claim.
Police believe that the man came to the Termini station ghetto specifically to 'prey' on young teenagers for sex, and that he intended to stay in the city until February.
They suspect he targeted Termini after widespread international reports about child prostitution rings run in the station's toilets and back alleys. whether it is a former employee.'
It comes less than a year after Termini station police uncovered a large-scale child prostitution ring in May 2015, which led to the arrest of at least eight men including a priest and a pastor.
The station has become a hub for the underage sex trade, with Middle Eastern, African and Romanian boys and girls - some as young as 11 - loitering around toilets to sell themselves.
They operate under the control of a number of older men aged 35 to 70, Il Messaggero reported last year.
But despite widespread efforts by Termini police to crack down on the ghetto of illegal immigrants, today's report suggests children and their abusers are finding ways to evade law enforcement.
The age of consent in Italy is 14. Prostitution is legal but streetwalking, promoting prostitution, or working in a brothel is illegal.