Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Filmmaker ‘guilty’ in conflict with church

Filmmaker ‘guilty’ in conflict with church

In an unrelated incident, James Ricketson lies on a Phnom Penh street last month protecting his phone after authorities (in foreground) asked him to delete photos
In an unrelated incident, James Ricketson lies on a Phnom Penh street last month protecting his phone after authorities (in foreground) asked him to delete photos. He alleges he photographed an officer beating a woman with a cane. Rick Valenzuela

Filmmaker ‘guilty’ in conflict with church

A Phnom Penh Municipal Court judge yesterday gave an Australian filmmaker a wholly suspended two-year prison term after finding him guilty of threatening a Brisbane-based church doing work in Cambodia.

Judge Keo Mony also levied a six-million riel ($1,500) fine against 64-year-old James Ricketson after he was convicted of threatening to dishonour the Citipointe Church by broadcasting accusations that the church sold children, Mony said.

“After carefully considering the law, the court has found James Ricketson guilty,” Mony said. “He has the right to appeal the court’s decision.”

In an email to the Post, Ricketson said he went to court and spoke to a judge, who said he would set a new trial date. A Post reporter at the hearing did not see Ricketson there.

Ricketson’s case stems from a documentary about prostitution in Cambodia he began filming in 1993. At that time, he met a young girl working as a garbage collector who became a prostitute. Later in life, the woman gave birth to two children, whom she sent to live at a Citipointe shelter.

When Ricketson recently tried to update his film, Citipointe refused to let him interview the girls, now 11 and 12, on camera, church attorney Kong Rady said during the March 12 trial.

According to the church, Ricketson then bribed the girls’ parents into asking Citipointe to return their children, but after finding out why the parents asked for their children back, the church declined.

“Ricketson has tried to get two girls who are vulnerable to human trafficking, whose mother was a victim . . . out of our shelter in order to continue making a film . . . for his personal benefit,” part of Citipointe’s complaint reads.

When the church did not return the children, judge Mony said, Ricketson threatened to broadcast allegations that Citipointe sold children abroad.

In an open letter to Citipointe pastors Leigh Ramsey and Brian Mulheran posted on his blog on Tuesday, Ricketson said he wasn’t served with a court summons. But Mony said that when police attempted to serve a summons, Ricketson refused to accept it and threw a bowl at them.

MOST VIEWED

  • Twenty years after Pol Pot died a broken man, his memory looms large

    Two decades have passed, but Mea Chron still stands by Pol Pot. Most days he also stands by the mass murderer’s cremation site, keeping guard in the Khmer Rouge’s last stronghold of Anlong Veng. Pol Pot, the widely reviled despot who spearheaded the

  • Reuters: US Embassy fired 32 staff members for sharing pornography

    The United States Embassy in Phnom Penh has fired 32 non-diplomatic staff members who were allegedly caught exchanging pornographic images and video, including of minors, according to the news agency Reuters. Four sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters the content was shared in

  • ‘Trouble’ foreseen in Khmer New Year almanac

    At 9:12am on Saturday, Cambodia’s devout can expect the arrival of Moha Thorathevey, an angel on a peacock holding a trident in one hand and an auspicious serrated wheel in the other. The angel, who has a liking for water hyacinths, will usher in

  • Our 2018 guide to spending Khmer New Year in Phnom Penh

    Khmer New Year festivities are upon us. For the next few days, travellers will be making their way to their home provinces to eat, celebrate, play traditional games and visit a pagoda with offerings. If you will be staying put in Phnom Penh for the