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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - US national charged over sex with teen

US national charged over sex with teen

Man arrested while allegedly having sex with young prostitute on a dark street, faces lengthy prison term if convicted

LEGAL CHANGE

Cambodia used to apply its debauchery law to almost all sex crimes, but has recently updated its statutes to include the new charge of indecent acts. On Wednesday, the Phnom Penh Court of Appeals slashed the sentence of a Belgian national convicted in 2006 under the old debauchery laws, from an original 18 years to just three years, causing alarm among anti-paedophile NGOs.

A US national was charged Sunday with child sex offences after police said he was caught last week having sex with a 13-year-old prostitute, court officials told the Post.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court prosecutor Hing Bunchea said Richard David Mitchell, 60, was charged with soliciting sex from a minor and engaging in indecent acts with a minor, over his alleged solicitation of the teenager in Phnom Penh.

Urm Rathana, municipal chief of anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection, told the Post that Mitchell was arrested on Thursday in Daun Penh district's Wat Phnom commune while having intercourse with the girl.

"He did not confess but police arrested him while he was committing the sexual abuse," Urm Rathana said, adding that Mitchell, who has entered Cambodia twice, was arrested on a dark street near the central post office after police were tipped off by two eyewitnesses.

"We have confiscated some Viagra pills, condoms, several bottles of condom lubricants and an artificial penis from his guesthouse room," he said.

Teenage prostitute

Samleang Seila, director of anti-paedophile NGO Action Pour Les Enfants, said that the 13-year-old girl was a regular prostitute in the area around Wat Phnom and was known to have previously had sex with many Cambodians and foreigners.

"We have met with her several times and spoken with her, but she doesn't seem to care," he said. "We do not even know when she started the job." He said that six foreigners have been arrested on paedophilia charges since January, preying mainly on children in Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh.

Teng Manet, the legal counsel for the 13-year-old victim, said the two charges carried heavy penalties. "He is facing more than 10 years' imprisonment on both charges," he said.

Mitchell's defence lawyer Uch Sophal told the Post he was yet to investigate the validity of the charges against his client. "We have still to study the charges from the prosecutor ... so I cannot comment."

US embassy spokesman John Johnson declined to comment on the case.

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