A US national accused of sex crimes in Battambang province has been cleared of the charges and released, court officials said Thursday.
Blake Alan Respini, 47, a teacher from the US State of California, was released by court order on June 11 for lack of evidence that he committed debauchery by having sex with two boys, said Prosecutor Yam Yeth.
“The evidence is just that the kids accused him, but two of the kids changed their minds and said the NGO forced them to make the accusations,” Yam Yeth said.
Action Pour Les Enfants assisted in the Dec 29 arrest in Battambang, where Respini was vacationing with the young nephews of an acquaintance from the US.
At the time, the NGO’s director, Hang Vibol, told police he had witnessed sexual activity between them at Respini’s guest house and alleged that Respini had abused the boys, aged 14 and 16, several times over the last year.
On Friday Respini’s lawyer said there was no proof to support his claim.
“The court decision is right. There was no evidence,” said attorney Ham Mony.
“The charge was baseless, and the NGO’s complaint was baseless.”
The NGO stood by its claim Friday and criticized Battambang Provincial Judge Nil Non’s ruling.
“I have seen him by my own eyes having sex with the boy,” Hang Vibol said.
Respini was one in a string of foreigners arrested for alleged sex crimes between September 2003 and March of this year. At least two others, US citizen Charles Landis and Australian David Ford, have since been released without charge.