The Phnom Penh Municipal Court extended the prison sentence of a 60-year-old American man by three years after finding him guilty in absentia yesterday of buying sex from a 15-year-old girl.
“The court decided to sentence Michael James Dodd to three years in jail for buying sex from a prostitute who was 15-years-old,” Judge Chhay Kong announced at the court.
“Mr Dodd is banished from Cambodia once he carries out his term in jail,” he added.
Dodd is already serving a 10-year prison term after being found guilty in August of sexual abuse and buying sex from a 14-year-old. He was arrested for that crime in October of 2008.
Dodd’s lawyer, Meng Sotheary, said by telephone that she was disappointed with the court’s decision.
“The court decided to sentence my client to three years in jail; it was not right and it was not just,” she said, adding that the judge should not have believed the victim because she was mentally ill.
To explain her client’s absence from court, Ms Sotheary said that Dodd was in the hospital preparing for an operation, though she did not have any further details.
Noun Phanith, lawyer for the victim, said he was also disappointed by the court’s decision because the judge did not order that financial compensation be paid to his client.
“Why did the judge decide like this?” he asked. “The victim used to be a prostitute at Phnom Penh’s Wat Phnom, but she was a minor,” Mr Phanith said.
The law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation defines a minor as any person under the age of 18 and states that a person convicted of buying sex from a minor aged 15 or above shall be punished with imprisonment from 2 to 5 years.
Back in the US, Dodd was found guilty of five counts of child sex abuse in 2002. He received a 10-year prison sentence for those convictions but served only five. He traveled to Cambodia upon his release.