A 79-year-old man charged with repeatedly molesting his mentally disabled 14-year-old neighbor was released from police custody in Takeo province on Tuesday, with one official describing the alleged abuse as a “small case.”
Deputy provincial police chief Suon Phon said that Phork Kong, a retired farmer, was arrested on Friday evening—just hours after sexually assaulting the girl—but that the Takeo Provincial Court decided to release him on Tuesday after charging him with committing indecent acts against a minor.
“The court released the suspect because it is a very small case,” he said, adding that the suspect was still under investigation by the court.
Mr. Kong is accused of molesting the child multiple times, most recently on Friday morning while she was playing near his stilt house in Tram Kak district’s O’Saray commune, according to deputy district police chief Sok Sochea.
Mr. Sochea said the girl lives with her stepmother and often spent time on Mr. Kong’s property. Following the man’s arrest on Friday, he said, she told police that she had been playing outside his house at about 11 a.m. when he returned home from a local pagoda and lured her inside, offering her cake and a few riel notes.
“The mentally disabled child would not follow him upstairs. Then the suspect took her hand and walked her upstairs” before abusing her, Mr. Sochea said.
Although she did not inform her family about the attack, he added, she did tell other children in the village.
“The stepmother heard from other children that an old man assaulted her daughter,” he said.
“We arrested the suspect after the stepmother filed a complaint with police about the assault,” he said, adding that the victim told investigators that she was also molested several times in the past, but that she could not recall exact dates.
Mr. Kong has vehemently denied the allegations. He told police that he found the child inside his home on Friday looking for a glass of ice water and sent her away unharmed, Mr. Sochea said.