Orphanage Head Faces Sex Charges

Phnom Penh Municipal Court Wednesday charged the president of a local orphanage with sexually abusing children in his care, court officials said.

An 11 year-old girl staying at the Light Association of Cambo­dian Children orphanage complained to police that president Path Norn, 56, touched her breasts and other parts of her body before attempting to rape her in January, Municipal Court Prosecutor Sok Roeun said. Several of the girl’s classmates witnessed the abuse, he said. The prosecutor said that Path Norn did not have sex with the girl.

Path Norn denied the charges in court and said he regarded all of the orphans as his children.

On Thursday 100 children from the orphanage demonstrated in front of the court demanding Path Norn’s release.

Khieu Samnang, a teacher at the orphanage, said Thursday that the allegations were trumped up by Tum Malis, a teacher at the orphanage, who felt slighted because she was passed over for a coveted assignment.

Tum Malis denied that she invented the charges and said that the girl had complained to her about Path Norn, leading her to take the girl to police.

Tum Malis resigned from the orphanage after the January incident, alleging that Path Norn had threatened her life. “Path Norn’s group threatened me with death. They said I caused this problem,” Tum Malis said.

The Interior Ministry’s Deputy Director of the Anti-human Traffi­cking and Juvenile Protection Unit, Phoung Sophy, said that they had been investigating the orphanage since receiving the complaint in January.

“After we asked the victim, the witnesses and the offender, it was clear to us that the offender attempted to rape the victim,” Phoung Sophy said.

Minister of Women’s Affairs Mu Sochua said she is “extremely concerned” about this case. “I’m not saying if ‘Path Norn’ is guilty or not, but we are concerned because there are a lot of children involved,” she said.

(Additional reporting by David Shaftel)






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