Siem Reap provincial police on Monday arrested a US national suspected of molesting four underage girls.
Brigadier General Doung Thavary, provincial deputy police chief, yesterday said that Rugh James Cline was arrested on Monday after provincial anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection officers received a complaint from mothers of two girls who were sexually abused.
“Police have now identified a total of four sexually-abused girls and all of them are under 15 years old,” Brig Gen Thavary said.
Brig Gen Thavary said Mr Cline molested the girls multiple times beginning earlier this month, adding that the suspect offered each girl $10 to $50 each time he molested them.
She said the victims told police that Mr Cline would meet them at the Pub Street area in Siem Reap city before he invited them to his rental house in the city, where he molested them.
Brig Gen Thavary said Mr Cline was arrested on Monday after he was brought in for questioning over the accusations.
“Police officers arrested him at the police station after he had been questioned,” she said, noting that Mr Cline denied the accusations.
“We are sending him to the provincial court for questioning,” she added.
Brig Gen Thavary noted that Mr Cline has entered Cambodia twice, once earlier this year and on May 7.
“We believe this is not a common case among tourists who visit Angkor Wat. Siem Reap province is an important tourism destination,” Brig Gen Thavary said. “Moreover, we sincerely welcome all tourists who intend to visit Cambodia and Angkor Wat.”
Yin Srang, provincial court spokesman, said that deputy provincial court prosecutor Sam Rithyveasna is currently questioning the suspect.
“The deputy prosecutor is still questioning the suspect and the court has not decided to charge him yet,” Mr Srang said.
Samleang Seila, executive director of Action Pour les Enfants, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
However, Mr Seila’s organisation has noted that developing countries do not yet have concrete means to discourage and prevent the sexual abuse of children.
An APLE investigation published last year noted that foreign tourists suspected of paedophilia continue to visit the Kingdom in order to exploit weak law enforcement. As many as 102 cases occurred in 2017 and 89 cases in 2018, according to APLE.