PHNOM Penh Municipal Court yesterday sentenced an American man in absentia to 17 years in prison after finding him guilty of buying sex from three underage girls and producing child pornography during a trip to Cambodia in January.
Craig Thomas Carr, 59, was arrested on January 21, and the Municipal Court later charged him with purchasing sex from three 14-year-old girls in Phnom Penh and Kandal province.
He was deported in May to the United States through Operation Twisted Traveller – an arrangement by which Americans suspected of committing sex crimes overseas can be tried in the US – and charged in a US district court in Washington state.
But because court proceedings in Cambodia had begun at the time of his deportation, the domestic case went ahead.
Defence lawyer Dun Vibol said it was “illogical” for his client to receive what he called a heavy sentence in light of the fact that he faced similar charges in the US.
During a hearing in Washington state on July 27, Carr pleaded guilty to having sex with underage girls in Cambodia. He faces a sentence of 15 to 30 years in the US case if found guilty.
“According to the principle of law, it seems illogical for my client to receive two verdicts in Cambodia and America on the same case,” he said. “He should not have been deported to face trial in the US.”
But Samleang Seila, director of the child protection NGO Action Pour Les Enfants, which provided lawyers for the victims, said he was happy with the verdict and sentence handed down yesterday, even though Carr was unlikely to serve time in Cambodia. He said that although the Cambodian sentence was not transferable to the US, it could “possibly be seen as evidence by the American courts, that he has been convicted of the crime here”.
The court also sentenced Mey Sovan and Sek Vy, both 37, to 12 years each in prison after finding them guilty of soliciting child prostitution and procurement.
Both were accused of finding the victims for Carr.
The court ordered them to pay fines of 8 million riels (US$1,900) each. In addition, all three accused were ordered to pay compensation to two victims totalling 8 million riels.
US media reports citing an affidavit in the case there said Carr published an online advertisement offering to purchase sex with girls who were around 12 years old.