Court Reduces US Pedophile’s Prison Sentence

The Appeal Court on Thursday re­duced the prison sentence of convicted US pedophile Thomas Rap­anos Wayne, who was found guilty in August of indecent acts against a 12-year-old girl, from 2 1⁄2 years in prison to one year, according to Judge Thou Mony.

Rapanos Wayne, 55, president of the Bhaktivedanta Eco Village NGO at the time of his arrest, was found guilty by the Phnom Penh Munici­p­al Court on Aug 6 of sexually abusing the 12-year-old.

Thou Mony, chief of the three-judge Appeal Court panel, said after Thursday’s closed-door hearing that the court reduced his sentence but decided to uphold the municipal court’s $1,250 fine and order of $1,000 in compensation to the victim’s family.

With Rapanos Wayne having been arrested in March, the re­duced sentence means that he will be free in three months. Thou Mony and panel Judge Seng Si­vutha declined to comment on the reasons for the re­duced sentence.

Samleang Seila, country director of anti-pedophile NGO Action Pour les Enfants, which assisted police in the arrest and provided an attorney for the victim, said he was upset with the decision, saying that the Appeal Court did not take into ac­count that Rapanos Wayne had re­peatedly abused his victim.

“If they continue to give light punishment, abusers will not be afraid,” he said.

Samleang Seila noted that Rapa­nos Wayne’s was the second lightest sentence for a sexual abuse crime, following the Appeal Court’s July decision to reduce the sentence of convicted Russian pedophile Nikita Belov, 26, from three years in prison to six months and 15 days.

The Appeal Court’s decision to re­duce Belov’s sentence sparked criticism by then-US Ambassador Jo­seph Mussomeli, who called the light sentence “disappointing.”

Dun Vibol, lawyer for Rapanos Wayne, called the decision a “hu­man­itarian act,” saying that besides be­ing innocent, his client is sick.

“We won’t appeal. [Rapanos Wayne] is just waiting for the three months to finish and then go for [medical] treatment,” he said.

(Additional reporting by James Welsh)

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