American Faces Child Sex Charges in Cambodia, US

U.S. national Daniel Johnson, 35, who was arrested in Phnom Penh on Monday for child sex crimes committed in the U.S., now faces at least five additional charges of alleged rape against underage Cambodian boys at a local orphanage, anti-pedophile NGO Action pour les Enfants (APLE) said Tuesday.

Johnson stands accused of abusing boys in his care while working as the director of the evangelical Christian organization Hope Transitions, which runs a number of projects in Cambodia, including the Home of Hope orphanage in Boeng Tompun commune where the suspect allegedly abused several young boys.

“The suspect was arrested Monday and is involved with abuses of underage boys between 11 and 15 years old in Cambodia and also of abuse committed in the U.S.,” said Pol Pithey, director of the Ministry of Interior’s anti-human trafficking police department.

“Secondly, we have discovered he is illegally running an NGO without permission from the Ministry of Interior,” he said.

Though the joint operation by anti-human trafficking police and the U.S.’ FBI was ostensibly for alleged child sex abuse offenses in the U.S., an investigation following his detention has revealed numerous claims of abuse at the Home of Hope orphanage, which cares for at least 30 children and young teenagers.

“We are continuing our investigation and are finding out that more victims have been abused by him,” Mr. Pithey said, adding that the suspect will appear at the municipal court today to be charged with crimes committed in Cambodia.

“Once he is sentenced and gets punished for his actions in Cambodia, he will be extradited to the U.S. for his other crimes,” he added.

Yi Moden, deputy director of field operations for APLE, said that his organization had assisted the U.S. in tracking down Johnson in Phnom Penh and was helping Cambodian authorities carry out interviews at the orphanage.

“We are helping police talk to the children and so far, five have testified to being touched inappropriately. But we think there may be more [to come],” Mr. Moden said, adding that he was not permitted to discuss the U.S.’ involvement in the case as the investigation is ongoing.

Johnson is also listed as an adviser to the board of directors of New Hope for Orphans (NHO), a Phnom Penh-based government-registered NGO described on its website as “a holistic Christian organization aimed at seeking out, caring for, educating and integrating the orphans of Cambodia into Khmer society.”

Somalay Y, a counselor and child psychologist for NHO, on Tuesday expressed her surprise at Johnson’s arrest and said the director of her organization, Sinai Phoeuk, was currently aiding the investigation.

“I know [the suspect] well, he has been here for a long time, but now he is arrested and they want an interpreter for him and Pastor Sinai has gone to the police. We will all try our best to help him,” she said.

Mr. Phoeuk declined to comment on the case.

“I am currently meeting with the police,” he said.

Mr. Moden said that on Monday, NHO’s management confirmed that Johnson had served as an adviser to the board of directors, but he was no longer involved with the organization.

Johnson’s own organization, Hope Transitions, is listed as a Christian mission of the Skyline Baptist Church in North Bend, Oregon, while an online biographical record states his hometown as nearby Coos Bay.

Elsewhere, Hope Transitions is described as a “nickname” of Wings of Faith Evangelism, a nonprofit religious organization founded in 1995 with an address in Powderly, Texas—according to Johnson’s user account on U.S.-based community forum website

Johnson’s evangelical work in Cambodia is also supported through a donation page of a Christian, family-run company in Gilmer, Texas, called Nutrition Lifestyles, which has organized several volunteer trips to Hope Transitions’ projects in Cambodia.

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