A British national and deputy head of an international school in Phnom Penh has been charged with indecent assault following highly publicised claims he abused a 5-year-old student.
Mark Andrew Smith, 39, the vice principal of Golden Bridge International School of Phnom Penh, faces up to five years in prison and $2,500 in fines after charges were laid yesterday by Phnom Penh Municipal Court Prosecutor Seang Sok.
The charge comes after a week of reports about his arrest in the wake of accusations first made public on Facebook in unorthodox fashion by a self-styled media personality known as Viriya MC, who was not personally involved in the case.
But Pol Pithey, head of the Interior Ministry’s Anti-Human Trafficking Department, said that the police had investigated beyond Viriya’s remarks.
After questioning the suspect and the victim – with the assistance of experts trained in gathering child testimony – and obtaining a medical report, Pithey said police had enough evidence to pursue the case.
“The child victim clearly elaborated; the most important [point] is the victim stated that she was really sexually violated,” he said.
“Although the family did not file a complaint, it is a child rights violation and abuse,” he said, adding the family was worried about stigma.
He said authorities would be working with British police and investigating any other potential cases at the school.