The Kompong Chhnang Provincial Court on Saturday charged an 18-year-old Buddhist monk with raping an eight-year-old girl after luring her into his room at a pagoda in Kompong Tralach district, officials said.
The suspect, Heng Sothearin, carried out the alleged attack at about 3 p.m. on Friday inside Takeum pagoda, where he had been resident for the past year, said Longvek commune police chief Sam Sarith, adding that the monk was arrested the following morning after the victim’s parents filed a complaint.
“The victim knows the suspect as she often goes to play at the pagoda because it is only 50 meters away from her house. There were only three monks at the pagoda that day as the rest went to a religious education event in Sihanoukville, which presented him with the opportunity to rape the child.” he said.
“The monk invited the little girl to his room by offering to give her some longan fruit, and when they reached his room, he closed the door, told her to undress and then raped her on his bed,” Mr. Sarith added.
A monk who was in another room less than 100 meters away said he had not seen or heard anything suspicious at the time of the alleged attack.
“The victim did not initially shout or complain that the monk had raped her, because she did not understand what rape was,” Mr. Sarith said.
He added that the monk paid the young victim 2,500 riel, or about $0.60, to persuade her to keep quiet about the attack, but her grandfather became suspicious when she offered to buy him a coffee. When he asked where she got the money from, she told him that a monk named “Thearin” had given it to her after touching her.
The girl’s older sister then admitted that the victim had earlier complained of being in pain because a monk at the pagoda had touched her, but the older sister was afraid to relay the story to their parents and grandfather, fearing it would upset them.
The monk was defrocked following his arrest, Mr. Sarith said.
Mam Senarithy, a clerk at the provincial court, confirmed the suspect had been charged with child rape and said he is currently in pretrial detention.
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