A BRITISH man faced Phnom Penh court on Wednesday, charged with committing a series of indecent acts against a 13-year-old Cambodian girl between 2007 and 2008.
Gareth Ashley Corbett, 51, was arrested at his home in Sihanoukville in July after police received testimony from the victim. The girl, who says she helped with dishwashing duties at Corbett’s shop, says the accused forced her to perform sex acts on him up to five times a day for US$10.
Corbett denies the charge and insists he neither gave the girl money nor paid her for washing the dishes.
“I’d give her 500 riels sometimes for buying cigarettes for me,” he said.
The victim also says she was abused by a 44-year-old American who was arrested last week during a police raid on a hotel in Phnom Penh.
The victim’s lawyer, Peng Maneth – who had requested the charge be changed from an indecent act to soliciting sex from a minor – told the court Corbett’s account in court contradicted his original statement to authorities.
“He told police and the investigating judge that he gave her $1 to $2 every time she washed dishes at his shop,” he said.
Corbett’s lawyer, Theng Meng Y, said that it would be “very unjust” if his client was found guilty.
The charge “is based only on the testimony from a girl without a credible witness or enough evidence”.
A verdict is expected to be handed down on December 25. If found guilty, Corbett faces between one and three years in prison.