Phnom Penh, Oct 20, 2016 (AFP) –A South Korean pastor was arrested in Cambodia Thursday and charged with raping young girls who were living in his church in a popular tourist town, police said.
The 62-year-old leads a Christian church in Siem Reap, the gateway to the famed Ankgor temple ruins, according to local anti-trafficking police chief Duong Thavry.
Over the past six years he has abused at least eight girls between the ages of 13 and 21, she said.
“Each of the victims were raped multiple times and all of the girls were staying in the church,” she told AFP.
According to the officer, the girls’ families lived in homes nearby but the pastor convinced them it would be best for the children to sleep inside the church compound.
The pastor, identified by police as Park Youl, allegedly promised the girls he would financially support their families in exchange for sex and provided some of them with motorcycles.
“We have charged him with purchasing child sex,” said Duong Thavry.
The victims have now been moved to a safe place, according to Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE), an NGO that hunts paedophiles and tipped-off police to this case.
Cambodia launched a drive in 2003 to shed its grim reputation as a haven for foreign paedophiles.
Dozens of foreigners have since been jailed for child sex crimes or deported to face trial in their home countries.
But campaigners say sentences are still too short and many foreign paedophiles operate with relative impunity.