One Australian man was convicted Wednesday of sex crimes in Siem Reap and was sentenced to 20 years in prison, while another—whom court officials fear has jumped bail—was given a 10-year sentence, a court official said.
Bart “Lucky” Lauwaert and Clint Betterridge were both convicted of debauchery charges after sexually abusing eight young women and girls employed as maids in their homes, said Plang Chlam, presiding judge of Siem Reap court.
The pair will have to pay their victims a total of $2,000 each, Plang Chlam said. Failure to make payments will add two years for each victim onto their prison sentences.
Lauwaert screamed that he would appeal the judge’s decision after receiving his 20-year sentence, Plang Chlam said. His lawyer, Dy Borima, could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
Betterridge was released on bail by the Appeals Court Jan 8 . At the time court officials said he was only accused of physically molesting one girl and they didn’t have enough evidence to hold him.
“We seized his passport and all his possessions, but I am afraid this guy will leave the country somehow,” Plang Chlam said.
The court listened to testimony from eight victims Tuesday, and on Wednesday Lauwaert refused to testify, Plang Chlam said. He said Lauwaert had said earlier that he did not take the girls’ virginity, but rather they had slept with Cambodian men and Japanese tourists before meeting him.
“With the evidence and with the testimony of the victims we are ready to prove his acts of debauchery,” Plang Chlam said.
The men were arrested Aug 2 and Aug 3 in Siem Reap after being accused by several girls of coercing them into having sex after hiring them to work as maids in the house the men briefly shared.
The pair were arrested in what appears to be a countrywide crackdown on foreign sex offenders. Several foreigners have been convicted of sexually abusing boys and girls in recent months.