US Citizen Suspected of Abusing Two Girls

Phnom Penh human trafficking police Tuesday evening de­tained a 42-year-old US citizen suspected of sexually abusing two girls ages 12 and 16 at a guesthouse in the Boeng Kak lake back­packer area, police and an NGO worker said.

Thomas Ratanos was invited for questioning at 8 pm by police after they discovered him in the guesthouse room with the two girls, the municipal anti-hu­man trafficking po­lice chief said Wednesday.

“Now we don’t say he committed the crime; it is up to the court,” said Urm Rathana, adding that Ratanos will be sent to the Phnom Penh Mu­­­­nicipal Court today.

Samleang Seila, country director for anti-pedophile NGO Action Pour les Enfants, which helped po­lice investigate Ratanos, said that the American had been under ob­ser­vation by the NGO since Nov­ember 2006.

“We were highly suspicious of [Ratanos’] activities because he was actively looking for young girls on the street,” he said. “Whatever young girl he saw he would stop and ask them to go with him.”

Samleang Seila said that Rata­nos also provided free En­glish lessons to poor children in the capital.

“He invited poor children for free English lessons,” he said.

A spokesman for the US Em­bassy declined to comment on Ratanos’ case.

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