Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court dropped charges against a 64-year-old French national accused of sexually abusing an 8-year-old girl, Investigating Judge Kim Eng said Thursday, and calling the actions of child protection NGOs involved in the case “inappropriate.”
Jean Claude Fournier was cleared of the charge of indecent acts in May, Judge Eng said, after the alleged victim told the court that the Frenchman did not abuse her.
Judge Eng added that Mr Fournier, who was granted bail in April, was wrongfully accused after he attempted to adopt the 7- year-old.
“After 15 years of marriage he didn’t have a child. He wanted a child. He liked the girl. He even took her to be treated for tuberculosis,” the judge said, accusing the two NGOs involved in the investigation, Action Pour Les Enfants and World Hope International, of telling the girl what to say at the court.
Mr Eng said that the NGOs had also hurt the child’s chances of being adopted.
“It is related to the damaging of interest of the child. The child’s future has been damaged,” the judge said. “There are some good people,” Mr Eng added of his decision in the case, saying also that he could no t recall the exact date that the charges against Mr Fournier were dropped.
APLE Country Director Samleang Seila said Thursday that his organization’s lawyer, who represented the girl, had been professional in his handling of the case.
Mr Seila said that the court’s actions were suspicious and that he was not informed that the charges against the Frenchman were dropped until Wednesday.
He added that, without prompting, the child had told police, APLE and the World Hope that she was abused.
“The child was about to show the abuse, [when Judge Eng] stopped the child,” Mr Seila said. “We have no reason to tell the child what to say,” he added.