Accusations of debauchery against an Australian chemistry instructor were dropped earlier this month after an international investigation found them baseless, according to court documents.
Australian Federal Police working with municipal officials discovered no grounds for the March 3 arrest of David Ford, raising questions as to how two teenage boys fingered him as their abuser in incidents three and four years ago.
Released April 10 from Prey Sar prison, Ford, 50, said Sunday that he did not know his accusers.
“I had never seen one of them. The other I had seen selling newspapers on the riverside, but I never talked to him or even bought a newspaper from him,” said Ford, a lecturer at Royal University of Phnom Penh. “These accusations have done unbelievable damage to my reputation.”
Cambodia has garnered international praise for its crackdown on so-called “sex tourists,” but more recently some NGOs’ methods of targeting foreign pedophiles and their collaboration with a notoriously corrupt police force have come under scrutiny.
The organization Action Pour Les Enfants, which has been instrumental in several recent arrests, cooperated with police in arresting Ford and bringing the teenagers, whose ages have been disputed, to file court complaints stemming from alleged abuse in 2000 and 2001. In Municipal Court documents signed this month by investigating Judge Nup Sophon, two investigators from APLE said they had never seen Ford take boys to his house.
Darnaudet Thierry, director of the Calcutta-based NGO, was not immediately available for comment Sunday.
Nov Leakhena, who as deputy director of the Interior Ministry’s foreigner department was active in Ford’s arrest, declined to discuss the case on Sunday. Nov Leakna was transferred last month to a post in the ministry’s Immigration Department, a move that he says was part of a normal rotation.
Ford was never charged with the alleged crimes—contrary to municipal prosecutor Nget Sarath’s comments in media that Ford faced a debauchery charge. He was arrested without warrant, according to a court document.