A 54-year-old British national accused of sexually abusing four girls denied on Monday charges of purchasing child prostitution and committing indecent acts against a minor, during the first day of his trial at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.
Michael Glyn Jones was arrested outside Olympic Market on June 24 after the victims’ mothers lodged complaints about the alleged abuse and municipal anti-human trafficking police launched a joint investigation with child protection group Action pour les Enfants (APLE).
Presiding Judge Ly Sokleng on Monday said Mr. Jones stands accused of having sex with an 11-year-old girl and then paying the child and her mother. The judge said the Briton was also accused of molesting three other girls between the ages of 7 and 9.
Addressing the courtroom, Mr. Jones denied the charges against him and claimed he simply took the younger girls—who had been begging for money near NagaWorld casino—to eat ice cream and went with the 11-year-old girl to the movie theater at Sorya Mall.
“I just gave the girls one to two dollars when they asked me for it,” he said.
“I took them to have ice cream and then brought them back” to the area outside the casino, he added.
Mr. Jones also accused APLE of pressuring the girls’ families to file complaints against him, and accused the victims themselves of lying.
“I am just a tourist; I wanted to be a good guy,” he said of why he gave cash to the girls. “I have money, they do not have money.”
Chhuon Sithann, a lawyer for the four victims, said outside the court that Mr. Jones took the three younger girls to an area under a bridge to Koh Pich island, where he molested them. The 11-year-old was assaulted at the cinema, Mr. Sithann said.
APLE’s deputy director of field operations, Khoem Vando, denied that his organization did anything to convince the families to take police action.
“[Mr. Jones] accused us because he wants to be released,” he said, noting that a number of other suspects had made similar claims against his organization.
Judge Sokleng said the trial would continue at a later date yet to be scheduled.
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