A US citizen accused of raping a 12-year-old boy was charged with debauchery for the second time in less than a week and is awaiting trial at PJ prison.
Police arrested 61-year-old Richard Arthur Schmidt on Saturday after he was seen checking into a guest house with a young boy. Pol Phiethey, chief of Municipal Foreign Police, said the boy’s statement and evidence gathered in Schmidt’s room this weekend indicated he raped the boy.
If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison, said a clerk of Judge Ham Mengse, who is investigating the case.
Following hours of questioning Wednesday, Schmidt hid his face from reporters with a cap and piece of paper as he walked from the courtroom to a waiting car and was taken to jail.
The boy whom Schmidt allegedly raped was also at the court Wednesday with his mother. He told reporters that Schmidt had followed him Saturday from the riverside to his house, and that Schmidt lured him to a guest house by offering English lessons and something to eat.
Waiting for questioning, Schmidt at one point shared a bench in the court with the alleged victim and his family, but they did not speak.
Darnaudet Thierry, whose NGO Action Pour Les Enfants investigated and assisted police in the case, gave cautious praise to the court’s decision to detain Schmidt.
“It is excellent, but at the same time, it comes too late,” he said.
Schmidt was first arrested Dec 22 after police searched his Phnom Penh apartment and confiscated pictures of nude young boys. Judge Tan Senarong later ruled that the pictures were not sufficient evidence to detain Schmidt.
“The judges should consider that a man with pornographic pictures is a potential danger to Cambodian children,” Thierry said Wednesday.
Tan Senarong defended
his decision, saying: “Last time the evidence was not clear,
but this time the evidence is enough.”
“I told him [on Dec 25] not to bring the boy into your room again…. He promised he would not,” Tan Senarong said. He added that he suggested police follow Schmidt after his release.
Thierry’s NGO, funded through the Spain-based NGO Global Humanitaria, also aided in the arrest Monday of US citizen Blake Alan Respiny for alleged sex crimes.
Respiny, 46, was arrested in Battambang town and has been transferred to police custody in Phnom Penh on the order of National Police Director General Hok Lundy. He has not been charged.