Man charged with attempted rape of children at a pagoda

Pursat Provincial Court charged a 25-year-old construction worker with attempted rape after he allegedly molested three preteen girls at a pagoda where he worked, provincial authorities said yesterday.

Chham Bunthoeurn, 25, was arrested June 30 and charged later that day after the mothers of the three children reported the crime to police in Krakor district’s Chhoeu Tom commune, said Pul Chamroeun, the deputy police chief of the Pursat provincial anti-human trafficking office.

“The girls told their mothers that when they went to school in the afternoon, a man named Thoeurn touched them,” he said.

Chham Bunthoeurn, who was building a schoolhouse on the grounds of Wat Bam Nork, allegedly approached the girls— two 9-year-olds and an 11-year-old— on June 29 at a nearby primary school and demanded that they follow him, Mr Chamroeun said.

“He threatened the girls if they did not follow,” he said.

The suspect first took the girls to the structure he was building and then allegedly ordered the two 9-year-olds to take off their clothes and touch each others’ bodies as he touched them, he said.

The man then ordered the 11-year-old to take off her clothes and touched her with his penis, he said. But before he could do anything else, the two 9-year-olds distracted him with a ruse, shouting that a monk was approaching, he said.

“As the two 9-year-olds screamed that the monk arrived, the man was frightened and rushed to put on his clothes while escaping,” he said.

“The man confessed that he did this, but did not have the intention to rape the girls,” Mr Chamroeun added.

Deputy provincial prosecutor Nob Sothornvisoth said the man could face 10 to 20 years in prison for the crime, and that he is being held in pretrial detention.

The case follows another disturbing series of incidents at a Cambodian pagoda in which a monk recorded more than 100 women bathing nude in blessed water in Phnom Penh.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court on June 29 charged the defrocked monk, Net Khai, with producing and disseminating pornography at Wat Sras Chak.


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