The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday convicted a 37-year-old teacher of raping a 9-year-old girl at a Christian school in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district, sentencing him to 10 years in prison and ordering him to pay the victim’s family nearly $1,000.
Kham Kosal was arrested on Nov 23 after the girl’s mother reported to police that the man had raped her daughter a week earlier in a bathroom at Chbar Ampao II commune’s Good News for Hope school.
“The court orders the defendant to pay 4 million riel ($952) in compensation to the victim’s family,” Judge Kor Vandy said. “If the defendant does not like the verdict he can appeal.”
Kham Kosal had vehemently denied attacking the girl during his two-day trial in late May, and his lawyer Mann Sophal said yesterday by telephone that the evidence in the case was weak, as his client had not been caught in the act.
He also reiterated his argument made during the trial that attendance and tuition records show the victim had not attended the school since Oct 12.
“It is very unjust,” he added.
Yim Thavy, the victim’s lawyer, said that the punishment, 10 years less than the 20-year maximum prison sentence, was inadequate for the crime.
“It is not suitable for the victim,” she said.
The victim’s mother said after the ruling that her daughter still requires treatment for physical injuries sustained in the attack and that $952 is not enough. “I want $5,000 in compensation,” she said.
Deputy Prosecutor Heang Sopheak could not be reached for comment, but said during the trial that Kham Kosal had told police that the girl was present at school on the day of the rape.
Sang Sitha, the headmaster of Good New for Hope school and who testified in favor of Kham Kosal, walked away from a reporter at the court after being asked to comment.
Local human rights group Adhoc counted 113 reported child rapes between January and April this year while The Cambodia Daily has now reported on 17 more child rapes, including rape-murders, in May and so far this month.