Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court released on bail 64-year-old French national Jean Claude Fournier, accused of sexually abusing two sisters aged eight and 13, and may drop the sexual assault charges against him, Investigating Judge Kim Eng said.
“[An] indecent act is a misdemeanor case, and the victims testified that he didn’t touch anything,” Kim Eng said, explaining his reason for granting bail. “We may drop the charge in the future,” he added.
Kim Eng accused a child protection NGO that cared for the two victims of prompting them in what to say in court Wednesday in order to implicate Fournier, who was arrested Feb 26.
“It is not appropriate,” Kim Eng said, adding that at the end of the questioning session Wednesday, an NGO worker who brought the young girls to the court demonstrated to them the alleged sexual abuse acts on a toy in order to tell them what to say to the judge.
Kim Eng added that the medical examination had also shown that the two sisters were not sexually abused.
Samleang Seila, country director of the anti-pedophile NGO Action Pour Les Enfants, identified the organization that cared for the children as World Hope International.
“The court turned the accusations [back] on the child protection NGO,” Samleang Seila said, adding that World Hope International did not prompt the victims into accusing Fournier.
“We have no grudge against any foreigner. We protect all children,” he said.
Samleang Seila said that the children had told World Hope International that Fournier had sexually abused them many times in the past year.
A World Hope International staffer who brought the children to the court Wednesday said on condition of anonymity Thursday that Judge Kim Eng was intimidating to the children when he questioned them.
“His characteristics were like a threat to the children,” the staffer said.
Kim Eng defended his techniques for questioning the girls, saying that they were “in accordance with the law.”