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Former school teacher Richard William Fruin is escorted from Phnom Penh Municipal Court
Former school teacher Richard William Fruin is escorted from Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday by authorities. Vireak Mai

Foreigner tried on child sex charges

A British former school teacher and convicted sex offender was charged yesterday at Phnom Penh Municipal Court with sexually abusing three minors.

Judge Kim Rathnarin said that 36-year-old Richard William Fruin, a former English teacher at Phnom Penh’s Universal English School, sexually assaulted three brothers, aged 8, 10 and 11, at a guesthouse in Daun Penh district’s Srah Chak commune.

Fruin is charged with “indecent acts against a minor under 15 years within article 43 of the Cambodian law on suppression of human trafficking and sexual exploitation”, Rathnarin said.

Fruin was arrested at a guesthouse by anti-human trafficking police on October 27.

“He was arrested when the anti-human trafficking police forces raided Boeung Meas Guesthouse … while he was staying [there] with a boy aged 8 in his room,” said Colonel Lao Lin, chief of the Ministry of Interior’s Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Office.

“He was arrested based on the three boys’ parents’ complaints,” he added.

During his hearing yesterday, Fruin denied all charges, claiming he had just wanted to offer the three homeless children a free education.

“The reason I brought them into my room was because I wanted to ask them about their families’ situation and their living conditions so that I could ask the director of [the] Universal English School [for] authorisation to allow them to study English free of charge,” he said.

Fruin, a British national, was convicted in 2005 by a court in England of 15 counts of producing indecent images of children.

“He is a convicted sex offender in the UK; he was found guilty of [producing] child pornography,” said Yi Moden, deputy director of field operations at anti-pedophilia NGO Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE).

The victims’ parents have demanded 84 million riel [about $21,000] in compensation.

A judgment on the case will be delivered on March 24.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY ALICE CUDDY

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