The judge investigating sexual abuse allegations against a city orphanage director
has completed the examination and passed the file to the court prosecutor. The investigating
judge, who did not want to be named, said the case against Path Non, the former head
of the Cambodian Light Children Association (CLCA), went to the Municipal Court on
Prosecutor Sok Roeun will examine the evidence and then decide whether to recommend
that Path Non be charged with a criminal offense. If so, the case must go to trial
by May 25, which marks six months since Non's arrest.
In a related development, the Ministry of Interior sent a letter on February 21 to
CLCA's former acting president, Billy Barnaart, granting him permission to open a
new orphanage to care for some of the CLCA children.
Barnaart told the Post that he would work as an advisor to the director of the newly-named
Jeannine's Children Association, named after Barnaart's late wife. JCA was set up
after an investigation by the Ministry of Social Affairs, Labor, Vocational Training
and Youth Rehabilitation (MoSALVY) following allegations that Path Non had sexually
abused an 11-year-old girl at CLCA.
The MoSALVY investigation, which finished in mid-December, found that CLCA had poor
sanitation, and the children were at risk of fire as the orphanage is located in
the Bassac slum which has predominantly wooden housing. It also found they could
be exploited, given that CLCA raises funds through public dance performances by the
MoSALVY Minister Ith Samheng then requested that Barnaart establish a new association
to care for the CLCA children. Barnaart said he expected JCA would soon sign a Memorandum
of Understanding with the ministry.
JCA is currently looking after 30 children in a villa in Tuol Kork. Most are from
CLCA, which is still looking after 40 children. Barnaart said the new orphanage would
continue the classical Khmer dance program that the children were learning at CLCA.
He added that CLCA's donors had transferred their funding to JCA, and he had installed
a proper system of accountability to ensure donor confidence in the new orphanage's
finances. Among the early funders are the Australian Business Association of Cambodia,
and a local language school.
"It was my promise to the children that I would provide them with an opportunity
to develop themselves," said Barnaart. "When I started with CLCA I promised
the children I would create a better service to improve their quality of life. They
are marvelous kids."