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Published On: Wed, Aug 16th, 2017

Fugitive US sex offender charged with rape of 5-year-old Cambodian girl

nsnbc : The 65-year-old U.S. sex offender Robert James Boehnlein who was to be extradited from Cambodia, will remain in the country to stand trial after being accused of repeatedly raping a five-year-old Cambodian girl.

Photo courtesy Interior Ministry of Cambodia.

Photo courtesy Interior Ministry of Cambodia.

Robert James Boehnlein was being held at Battambang provincial prison on Monday after being charged with rape with aggravating circumstances, said provincial court spokesman Seng Phanith. Uk Heisela, chief of investigations at Cambodia’s Interior Ministry’s immigration department, said on Monday that Boehnlein, who has outstanding warrants in the U.S., was arrested by immigration police late last month in Battambang City at the request of the U.S. State Department.

Lieutenant General Heisela said the U.S. State Department decided to revoke his passport and asked that Cambodian authorities arrest and deport him, after realizing he was living in Cambodia. However, the United States agreed to suspend its extradition request if Boehnlein was found guilty and sentenced in Cambodia, said Lt. Gen. Heisela.

Born Vannara, chief of the provincial police anti-human trafficking unit, said the five-year-old girl told authorities that Mr. Boehnlein had raped her repeatedly between March and April 2016 at the house in which he was living. The girls account was confirmed by her mother. However, the mother later grew reluctant to cooperate with police and eventually declined to allow authorities to further question he daughter, said Vannara. The girl also said Mr. Boehnlein showed her his genitals several times both inside his bedroom and bathroom, a claim her mother denied, Vannara added. Boehnlein arrived in Cambodia in October 2014. He denied all the girl’s accusations, said Vannara said. If convicted, he faces 7  to 15 years in prison.

Samleang Seila, executive director of anti-pedophile NGO Action Pour Les Enfants, said parents of sexually-abused children may be reluctant to cooperate with police because foreign sex offenders tend to form close relationships with and offer financial support to victims and their families. “The foreigners mostly use a grooming method by directly luring the child and helping and supporting the family, he added. Other reason why parents may be reluctant to cooperate with authorities, said Seila, are that they may distrust the justice system, fear to tarnish the reputation of the family, or threats from sex offenders, said Seila.

Boehnlein, who was convicted of child sexual abuse in the U.S. in 2002 and released from prison in 2011, is registered as a sex offender in the states of Louisiana and Pennsylvania, according to the U.S. National Sex Offender Public website. Lisa Hardy, a detective in the sex offender unit of the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office in Lake Charles, Louisiana, said earlier this month that the U.S. suspect still had active warrants, issued in June 2015 for violating sex offender registration requirements.

Boehnlein is required to verify his address with authorities every three months. However, he last spoke with a Pennsylvania investigator in November 2014 after he missed a required police check-in, Matthew Auker, a criminal investigation unit supervisor of the Pennsylvania State Police, said earlier this month. Boehnlein informed the investigator over the telephone that he was living in Mexico and would not be returning to the U.S., Mr. Auker said.

F/AK – nsnbc 16.08.2017

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