American Gets 2 Years for Sexually Assaulting Girls

The Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court on Tuesday sentenced 56-year-old U.S. national Robert Hays to two years in prison for sexually abusing two underage girls and ordered that he be deported upon his release, court officials said.

Deputy prosecutor Huot Vicheat said the American was convicted on two counts of indecent assault with aggravating circumstances and also ordered to pay 2 million riel (about $500) to each of his victims.

“After he finishes serving his jail term, he will be deported from Cambodia,” Mr. Vicheat said.

An investigation into Mr. Hays, who had worked as an English teacher, began in 2010 after anti-pedophile NGO Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE) received reports that he had brought young children into his home, according to a statement released by the group Tuesday.

“A lengthy investigation was [then] carried out by the Cambodian National Police, in cooperation with U.S. authorities,” Khoem Vando, APLE’s deputy director of field operations, said in the statement.

Contacted by telephone, Mr. Vando said he welcomed the deportation order but criticized the court’s earlier decision to spare Mr. Hays pretrial detention, saying that he had attempted to pressure the victims and their families into retracting their complaints against him.

“Hays’ freedom has allowed him to be in contact with his former alleged victims, and establish contact with new children in his community,” he said.

sovuthy@cambodiadaily.com, henderson@cambodiadaily.com

© 2015, All rights reserved.