Mark Andrew Smith, 40, was handed down a 2-year suspended jail sentence at a local court in Phnom Penh after being found guilty of sexually abusing a 5-year-old Cambodian girl.
Smith, who was the victim’s British vice principal at Golden Bridge International School, reportedly took the girl home where he molested her.
On Thursday, almost a year after Smith’s arrest in July 2017, Phnom Penh Municipal Court found him guilty of “committing indecent assault with aggravating circumstances.”
The pedophile was fined five million Cambodian Riels ($1,250), but effectively avoided jail time due to the suspended sentences, according to The Sun
Originally from Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, United Kingdom, Smith moved to Siem Reap, Cambodia, in 2007 where he worked at Smart Kids International School.
He then moved to Phnom Penh in 2014 to work at the Golden Bridge School as its vice principal. At the time of his arrest, Smith was living in Phnom Penh with his 30-year-old girlfriend Sem Malis and their two children.
Allegations emerged last year after a Cambodian radio host, who was discussing the case of another British pedophile, Clive Cressy, revealed the alleged abuse committed by Smith.
The female radio host known as Viriya claimed that the parents could not file a complaint against him out of fear.
In her broadcast, Viriya said the parents of the victim told her that they first noticed a discharge on their daughter’s underwear, which they described as yellow with an unpleasant smell. Viriya told them that this discharge was maybe due to an infection caused by sexual activity and suggested that they get the child checked in to a clinic.
Doctors found that while the discharge was caused by sexual activity, it was not due to penetration as the child is too small. After gently persuading the child to tell them what had happened, she said that “teacher” had taken her at a “house .”
Acting on the information and medical report, authorities soon launched their investigation and eventually arrested Smith.
Pol Pithey, head of the Interior Ministry’s Anti-Human Trafficking Department, said the police had enough evidence prior to the arrest, reports the Phnom Penh Post.
“The child victim clearly elaborated; the most important [point] is the victim stated that she was really sexually violated,” he said.
“Although the family did not file a complaint, it is a child rights violation and abuse,” he added.
Seila Samleang, Executive Director of NGO Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE) which worked on the case noted after the hearing, ”It is a grave concern to observe the growing incidence of child sexual abuse in private schools, orphanages, and child welfare organizations over the last few years.”
“The situation is alarming and effective measures must be put in place to stop the problem,” Samleang was quoted as saying.
“The lack of child safeguarding procedures at schools, for instance, and the fact that these institutions fail to conduct proper checks on their employees, can be the main factors which allow abuse to happen and persist.”
Feature Image via YouTube/Cambodia Expats Online