Phnom Penh police arrested a 57-year-old US national on Sunday for allegedly sexually abusing at least five young girls at his home in the Boeng Kak lake area, municipal anti-human trafficking police chief Keo Thea said Monday.
Harvey Alexander Johnson is scheduled to appear at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court today to face the charge of committing indecent acts against minors less than 15 years old, Mr Thea said.
“Now we have found five to six girls and we will continue to find more,” Mr Thea said of Johnson’s alleged victims, who range in age from 11 to 14.
“He acted as a mobile English teacher and taught children free of charge inside his house in the Boeng Kak area. He acted like a kind person,” Mr Thea said, adding that the alleged abuses had spanned the last few months at least.
Mr Thea said that police found three computers and some pornographic VCDs during a search of the suspect’s house. Mr Thea said police would search the computers’ hard drives and videos for child pornography.
The anti-pedophile NGO Action Pour Les Enfants began investigating Johnson two years ago after spotting him speaking to young girls on the city’s riverside, APLE Country Director Samleang Seila said, adding that Johnson’s neighbors also reported their suspicions about their neighbors.
“[Johnson] also tried to teach at two orphanage centers in Phnom Penh,” Mr Seila said. “He tried to get close to children,” he said, adding that the children who reported being abused were also given money and cakes for attending English lessons at Mr Johnson’s home.
Mr Seila said that Johnson’s arrest on Sunday had brought the total number of foreigners arrested for sexual abuses to 14 since January, bypassing last year’s total arrests of just 12 for the entire year.
He attributed the increase to more pedophiles entering the country and improvements in police’s ability to investigate and collect evidence in child sex crimes.