Two Australians Charged With Debauchery

Two Australian nationals were charged with debauchery in Siem Reap court after police arrested them for allegedly having sexual relations with girls between the ages of 12 and 14, said So Vat, chief prosecutor of Siem Reap Court.

Bart Lauwaert, 36, and Clint Betterridge, 35, were arrested over the weekend after complaints were filed by the victims, and face 15 to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Lauwaert allegedly first had a sex­ual relationship with the 14-year-old girl for four months, Investigating Judge Ang Meala­tey said, “and then she was handed over to his friend, Clint Better­ridge. [Betterridge] had sex with her once and then kicked her away.”

Ou Em, penal police chief for Siem Reap, confirmed this arrangement. “At the beginning, all of these girls refused to have sex because they were afraid, but these men…said if they refused they would be sent back to their homes. They are poor, so from time to time they agreed to have sex.”

Ou Em said that his police had been gathering evidence on the case since late June. The arrests were made when three girls filed complaints against the men on July 31, he said.

Ang Mealatey added that the police are questioning at least five other potential victims.

The two men, who worked as English teachers, hired several young women, ranging in age from 11 to 18 to clean their houses. They were paid for their cleaning services and given additional cash for sex, Ou Em said.

Lauwaert “forced the girls to procure other girls for him and if they did not, they would be fired,” Ou Em said.

Ang Mealatey said neither man raped the girls, “but the girls are underage.”

During the arrests, police confiscated at least 45 pornographic VCDs that Ou Em claimed the men forced the girls to watch before having sex with them.

Both men have denied the charges, Ou Em said.

“The foreigners always refuse the charges at the beginning, but I will show them everything to prove the charges,” Ang Meala­tey said.

(Additional reporting by Seth Meixner and Van Roeun)






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