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US man sent to court for more investigation into child sex claims

AN American national was sent to Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday following his arrest on suspicions he sexually abused five underage girls, officials told the Post on Tuesday.

Keo Thea, director of the municipality's bureau of anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection, said the case had been sent to the court for further investigation into the claims of indecent acts against minors under the age of 15 years.

"We have now found five girls who said they were abused," he said, adding that the man had also overstayed his visa.

Harvey Alexander Johnson, 57, was arrested Sunday at his rented house in Phnom Penh's Boeung Kak commune following complaints and accusations that he abused at least 10 underage girls, Keo Thea said.

Samleang Seila, country director of anti-paedophile NGO Action Pours Les Enfants, said Monday his group tipped off the police and had suspected the man of sex crimes since mid-2007.

He said Johnson's activities as an English teacher and private tutor had raised suspicions after many girls were seen gathering at his house.

"His technique was very smart. His idea was to win the girls' parents' trust by collecting them to learn English at his home for free and by supporting them with study materials," Samleang Seila said.

"I warmly welcome the fact that the police have done their duty to keep arresting foreigners who are involved with child sex offenses, to ensure Cambodia's good reputation."

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