AN AMERICAN man has pleaded guilty in a US district court to charges of engaging in illicit sexual contact with minors while living in Cambodia, less than five months after a Cambodian court acquitted him of the same offences, media reports and officials said Sunday.
US media reports citing the US Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said the guilty plea was part of an agreement under which Jack Louis Sporich, 75, is likely to face 10 years behind bars and have to pay US$30,000 to two young Cambodian victims.
Sporich’s arrest last August was among the first carried out as part of Operation Twisted Traveller, an ongoing effort by the US Department of Justice and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, along with Cambodian authorities to identify and prosecute accused American sex tourists who have travelled to Cambodia.
Sporich originally pleaded not guilty after he was charged in September with three counts of engaging in illicit sexual contact with underage boys.
In addition, Siem Reap provincial court tried him in absentia last December and January, finding him not guilty, said Samleang Seila, country director for the child protection NGO Action Pour Les Enfants.
“The charge was indecent acts against four minors,” Samleang Seila said.
“Three of the four victims changed their testimony before the trial judge during the trial, and the fourth didn’t attend the trial. We expect that the three victims and their families were bribed by the defendant.”
Siem Reap court officials could not be reached for comment on Sunday.
US embassy spokesman John Johnson on Sunday said that Sporich’s guilty plea was a sign that Twisted Traveller was working.
“We think this represents a success in the operation Twisted Traveller, and this success and the many others of the operation represent excellent cooperation between the US law enforcement community and the Cambodian government and Cambodian national police,” he said.