US Man Set Free From Drug, Pornography Charges

An American man charged with drug and child pornography offenses in January has been released from Preah Sihanouk Provincial Prison, a prison official said yesterday.

Ronald Adams, who was 51 when charged by Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court in January, had been accused by police of filming and photographing a drugged and naked 12-year-old girl in Preah Sihanouk City.

Bounak Sophoan, chief of logistics at the prison, said yesterday that Judge Le Sokha had ordered Mr Adams to be released earlier this month.

“He was ordered to be released on Sept 16,” Mr Sophoan said by telephone yesterday, adding that the court had decided to drop the charges against Mr Adams.

In January, Mr Adams was charged with producing pornography and drug possession after police searched his home and allegedly found eight ecstasy pills, nine grams of marijuana, various sex toys and 34 compact discs allegedly depicting naked children.

The initial search came after the 12-year-old’s mother made complaint to police, alleging that Mr Adams had forced her daughter to undress and coerced her into taking an unknown medicine, rendering her unconscious.

Provincial anti-human trafficking police chief Be Sivanna said yesterday he was aware that Mr Adams had been released but that he did not know why.

“Once we arrested him, we had evidence and a [victim]. The evidence included a laptop and a video of the victim,” he said, adding that the video was “not very clear.”

Judge Sokha and other court officials could not be reached yesterday.

Samleang Seila, country director of Action Pour Les Enfants, an NGO created to combat child sex crimes, said the victim’s lawyer had only been notified of Mr Adams’ release after APLE staff had seen the American walking around Preah Sihanouk City and contacted the court.

Mr Seila said the court had written a letter to APLE saying they did not have enough evidence to hold Mr Adams.

“Now we are in the process of appealing the release. The victim and her family are sad because of the court’s decision,” he said.

A spokesman for the US Embassy, which confirmed in a January statement that they had assisted authorities in the investigation of the case against Mr Adams, said in an e-mail yesterday that the embassy was prohibited from discussing individual American citizens under US privacy laws.

   (Additional reporting by Mark Worley)


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