A week after his arrest, the deputy principal of a Phnom Penh international school accused of sexually abusing a 5-year-old student was charged on Friday and sent to Prey Sar prison to await trial, a court spokesman said.
Mark Andrew Smith, 39, a U.K. national, was charged with indecent assault with aggravating circumstances after an hourlong questioning before Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge Y Thavrak, court spokesman Sous Vichearandy said.
“He was send to Prey Sar prison this afternoon,” Mr. Vichearandy said.
Mr. Smith was arrested July 21 as he left Golden Bridge International School of Phnom Penh, two days after a Cambodian Facebook user, known as Viraya MC, livestreamed a video describing how Mr. Smith allegedly abused the 5-year-old student at his home.
Sem Malis, Mr. Smith’s girlfriend, on Thursday repeated earlier claims that the father of two was innocent and questioned whether the court had enough evidence to charge him. She said police had told her they had found nothing to support his guilt on the school’s surveillance cameras.
“He did not do it. Why hold him accountable?” Ms. Malis, 30, asked. “It is unfair.”
In a statement posted to the school’s Facebook page on Tuesday, Golden Bridge said it was aware of the allegations of sexual abuse against a “foreign teacher” and was cooperating with authorities. An administrator at Golden Bridge could not immediately be reached on Friday.
The charge carries a penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine of 10 million riel, or about $2,500. No trial date was immediately scheduled.
odom@cambodiadaily.com *
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