School Head Made Child Sex Video, Police Say

The British director of an En­glish-language school in Phnom Penh was arrested by military police Saturday after he was caught allegedly videotaping four young girls in indecent poses in a park in Takhmau town, Kandal province.

John Keller, director of the Lon­don School of English, al­legedly drugged and videotaped two 8-year-old girls and two 10-year-old girls exposing themselves in the public park, said Chuon Sovann, Kandal province military police commander.

The four girls claim Keller lured them with candy, injected them with an unknown substance that made them dizzy and then told them to remove their clothes before recording them with a small hand-held camera, Chuon Sovann said.

The case was handed over Mon­day to the prosecutor’s office at Kandal courthouse, Chuon Sovann said. The videotape and a green liquid thought to be the sub­stance administered to the children was given to the court as evidence, he said.

Chief Prosecutor Chheng Phath said Keller, 55, was charged with acts of debauchery against minors under article 8 of Cam­bodia’s law on human trafficking and prostitution, which allows for prison terms of 10 to 20 years.

Keller, who has lived in Cam­bo­dia for about one year, is being held in Kandal provincial prison.

An employee at the London School of English, on Street 208 in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district, said the school, which has some 60 Cambodian students of all ages, is closed for a one week holiday.

Two other recent cases of foreigners sexually exploiting children in Cambodia are currently before the Siem Reap and Phnom Penh Municipal Courts.

According to Chanthol Oung, director of the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center, Cambodia has become a hunting ground for foreign pedophiles who target Cambodia because of the country’s failure to properly punish crimes related to sexual exploitation of children.

British Ambassador George Edgar confirmed Monday that the embassy is following Keller’s case to ensure he has legal representation and is treated properly while in detention.

A Kandal provincial police officer who requested anonymity said officers approached Keller around 2 pm Saturday after a passerby saw the incident and tipped them off.

“We found him in the park with a video camera and the four girls,” the officer said. “He tried to throw the videotape away when we approached him.”

Police later watched the tape, which corroborated the children’s statements that Keller video taped them exposing their genitals, the officer said.

Gathered at the park in Takhmau town Monday, relatives of the four girls said Keller began befriending their children months ago and was a regular visitor to the park on weekends, where he was known by the children for giving out sweets and small amounts of money.

“He would visit every Saturday and Sunday and stay in the park for between two and three hours,” said Chan Vanee, a mother of one of the victims.

However, Saturday’s incident was the first occasion that Keller did anything to the children, she said.

“Many foreigners have come and helped poor Cambodian children,” said Chan Vanee, who lives on the street near the park with her daughter. “I never thought that a foreign man would do something bad like this.”

Interviewed Monday the four girls said they felt dizzy after being injected and did what Keller told them to do. The girls also alleged Keller groped them.

 

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