A primary school teacher had his five-year sentence for molesting four female students in 2013 reduced to three by the Appeal Court on Wednesday.
The victims, aged between 13 and 14, hail from Kampong Chhnang province’s Rolea Ba’ier district.
Presiding Judge Chay Daravann told the courtroom,in the absence of the appellant Kem Chan Chhen and his lawyer, that due to the disagreement between witness testimonies and that of the alleged victims, three complaints against the former Thma Keo primary school teacher had been dismissed and a lesser sentence imposed.
“The court finds that in this case, Kem Chan Chhen committed the criminal offence of sexual harassment with only one girl and not four as originally ruled. So the Appeal Court has revised the punishment handed down from five years in prison to three."
“With regard to compensation claimed by guardians of the three other students, the court rules that he does not have to compensate three of the girls named in the case. But the accused must compensate one girl 10 million riel [almost $2,500],” Judge Daravann said.
Defence lawyer Kea Eav on Wednesday said he was pleased to see the court provide justice for his client.
‘No eyewitness testimony’
“With regard to this case, no witnesses testified to seeing the teacher sexually harass any girl other than the one. So it means the punishment handed down to my client by the lower court on the grounds he sexually assaulted four girls has been lessened,” Eav said.
The four girls claimed Chan Chhen kissed them, touched their breasts and groped their genitals. He also sometimes forced them to remove their skirts in the classroom, it was alleged.
The original complaint by the guardians of the four girls alleged that from February to mid-May 2013, Thma Keo primary school sixth grade “A” teacher Chan Chhen molested four girls aged between 13 and 14. He was charged with sexually harassing the four students.
It said Chan Chhen regularly embraced the four children and touched their breasts. This sometimes happened while they were in the classroom alone, with the other students on break.
On other occasions, it happened during extra classes at his house when his wife was not present.