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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - American lured kids in with toys and gifts, victim's mother claims

American lured kids in with toys and gifts, victim's mother claims

NGOs say the 75-year-old American is a serial offender - four

under-15 victims have so far come forward, with the possibility of more

 SHORTER TERMS

Paedophilia sentences have shrunk under Cambodia's 2008 Law on Anti-Human Trafficking, according to some rights groups, who say reclassifications in the law are responsible for a recent series of successful appeals by convicted offenders. SIEM Reap provincial court has charged an American national with committing indecent acts against two underage boys, as government investigators claim more young victims may be involved.

"I

charged American Jack Louis Sporich, 75, with indecent acts against two

boys, and he is now being questioned by the investigating judge," court

prosecutor Nuon San told the Post Wednesday.

Under new Cambodian sex crimes legislation, each charge of "indecent acts" carries a penalty from one to three years in prison.

Sun

Bunthorng, chief of the provincial bureau of Anti-Human Trafficking and

Juvenile Protection, said that police arrested Sporich on Monday at his

house in Siem Reap town on suspicions that he had sexual relations with

at least four boys aged under 15 years.

"We are continuing to

investigate the case," he said. "We have now received complaints from

four victims, and we believe there might be more boys involved in the

case."

SunBunthorng said that Sporich, who is retired, entered Cambodia in 2005 and was married to a Cambodian woman.

Serial offender

Samleang

Seila, executive director of anti-paedophile group Action Pour Les

Enfants, that helped in the arrest, said his team had been watching the

man since late 2007 and that the suspect had toys at his villa which he

used to attract children aged between nine and 13.

Ny Ty, 36,

the mother of one nine-year-old boy involved in the case, who runs a

street stall close to the American's villa, said Sporich had lured

children to his house with gifts and sweets and that she had never

suspected his intentions.

"My son told me that he always bathed

him, bought nice clothes and a new bicycle for him, and asked whether

he could come and live with him," she said, adding that the request

seemed innocent enough at the time.

"I agreed to allow my son to

live with the American for almost a year after seeing his generosity to

the other boys, giving them cakes and money frequently."

After

her son went missing February 2, Ny Ty said she searched for him at

local NGOs, eventually coming across him at a local shelter, where he

had been taken by staff working for Action Pour Les Enfants after

Sporich's arrest.

"Now I feel relieved knowing he is now being

taken care of," she said. "I am coming here to seek compensation for my

son like the other three boys' mothers would do as well."

In

recent years, the Kingdom has struggled to shed its reputation as a

haven for child molesters, putting dozens of foreigners in jail for

child sex crimes.

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