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Abbot charged with paying child for sex

KAMPONG Chhnang provincial court has charged an abbot from the province’s Preah Ream Raingsey pagoda with purchasing child prostitution after his arrest and defrocking last week, officials said.

Prak Saony, chief of the provincial anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection office, said Chan Thuon, 56, was arrested Thursday and defrocked a day later after being accused of having sex with an underage girl at the pagoda.

She said police started to investigate Chan Thuon after a local NGO received an anonymous letter stating that the victim, now 17 years of age, had become pregnant to an older man while still a minor.

“During his arrest Chan Thuon did not confess, but when the police brought the victim to talk face to face with him, he confessed what he had done and everything he bought for [the girl’s] family, such as TVs, DVD players and mobile phones,” she said.

Prak Saony said the abbot also confessed to paying 900,000 riels (US$214) to the victim’s family so she could have an abortion at a clinic in Phnom Penh, and said that the sexual relationship was consensual.

The monk originally got involved with the family after he ordained one of its children, she said, and he had long provided the family with financial support.

Provincial prosecutor Penh Vibol said Chan Thuon faces between two and five years in prison if found guilty on the charge.

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