Phnom Penh, a 52-year-old Australian primary school teacher, George Moussallie, was sentenced to five years imprisonment for sexually abusing 6 underage boys, aged 3 to 13 years old. The court also ordered George Moussallie to pay 10 million riel compensation to 2 plaintiffs, a 5 million riel fine, and ordered his deportation upon the completion of imprisonment.
According to the court’s judgment, Moussallie was found guilty of two offenses: Sexual Intercourse with a Minor under Fifteen Years which carries the maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and Indecent Act against a Minor under Fifteen Years which is punishable by up to 3 year imprisonment.
Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Department of the Ministry of Interior arrested George Moussallie in August 2014 as he was leaving his Phnom Penh apartment accompanied by two young boys. Moussallie had lived in Cambodia for around five years where he spent most of time with poor and homeless families along riverfront, the place where he met all the victims. As he groomed the children for abuse, Moussallie bought them clothes, took them on outings, and entertained them at his house. He posed as a kind-hearted man, not only to groom his victims, but also their families. In APLE’s experience, this case demonstrates the extensive lengths some perpetrators will go through to access children and gain trust in the family and community.
With intervention from DoSAVY and support from APLE, International Justice Mission (IJM), and other aftercare NGO partners, the rescued children received proper care and support, which enabled them to overcome their emotional difficulties. The children are continuing to recover from their traumatization.
As child protection NGO, APLE welcomes the child-friendly procedure practiced by the court in this case. For example, the use of TV-Linked Testimony helped the minor victims feel confident to testify about the abuse during the trial hearing.
APLE’s Deputy Director of Field Operations, Mr. Khoem Vando, stated: “I welcome the deportation order by the court as it prevents the convict from reoffending. Deportation should be made automatic; this will send a strong clear message to potential offenders.”
IJM Cambodia Field Office Director, Christa Sharpe, stated, “George Moussallie came to Cambodia because he thought it was a safe place to groom and rape poor boys. He thought he could manipulate their families to look the other way and operate freely under the guise of being a teacher and patron of the poor. Today, he discovered that Cambodia is no longer a safe place to abuse children. Six boys were brave enough to testify to his manipulation and abuse, and the Cambodian public justice system – anti-trafficking police, courts and social services – successfully collaborated to ensure this man is held accountable for his crimes. One Cambodian community is now safer due to this man being held accountable for his crimes.”