Siem Reap, on 14 February 2017, the Siem Reap Provincial Court tried a 44-year-old Dutchman, Sebastian Reuyl, guilty of two separate charges involving indecent act against minor under 15 years and child pornography, and sentenced him to 5 years in prison, according to the Siem Reap court clerk.
In 2004, Reuyl was arrested in the Netherlands and sentenced to one-year imprisonment for molesting a 12-year-old boy while he worked as a sailing instructor. The court also banned him from working with children, but he later fled to Cambodia.
In 2009, Reuyl was found in Siem Reap running an orphanage helping poor children with food and schooling. He was then suspected of abusing children who lived with him. In 2011 APLE's partner, Terre des Hommes Netherland, discovered the true identity of Reuyl and the fact that he had previously been sentenced in the Netherlands. At the time, Reuyl was even considered by the Dutch court to represent a serious risk with a high chance to re-offend. This sad saga underlines the urgent need for improved international co-operation in the struggle against child sex tourism. APLE then shared this information with the Cambodian police. Reuyl was later arrested by Siem Reap anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection police for allegedly abusing 5 minors; however, he was released while awaiting his trial; this enabled him to return to the community and restart his relationship with the victims. Later, some of his victims retracted complaints and reversed their statements. The court then ruled that he was acquitted from all charges due to lack of evidence.
Back in the community, Reuyl continued to rent a small room, not far from the place of his former victims and made efforts to establish a close bond with kids and their families. He started inviting children into his room and would entertain them with his computer games — a grooming technique he often utilized to prepare children for abuse and keep them silent. Reuyl repeatedly told his neighbors that he was innocent and badly framed by police and NGO. He also manipulated about the work of APLE. However, his suspicious relationships with minors warranted police investigation again.
In 2013, Terre des Hommes Netherlands and APLE Cambodia started to help police collect evidence again. Reuyl was caught the second time for alleged sexual molestation of two of his previous victims and a new one. He was detained in prison, but sadly his charge was dismissed by the investigating judge although the evidence against him was strong. He was set free and continued to live in the same village. This time, Reuyl changed the story and admitted to his neighbors that he did molest children in the Netherlands, but he promised he would never do that again. Shortly, he managed to rebuild trust with the families who then began to send kids back to his home, prompting a new investigation.
In 2014, a Dutch lawyer brought a criminal complaint against Reuyl in the Netherlands on behalf of two Cambodian victims. From that moment the Dutch and Cambodian authorities started to cooperate to bring the Dutchman to court.
In August 2016, Siem Reap anti-human trafficking police conducted the 3rd arrest of Reuyl after three victims told police about the abuse. Although all the victims withdrew their complaints during the court proceedings, Reuyl was found guilty of all his charges due to the tireless and committed work done by APLE team.
Seila Samleang, APLE Director, called this verdict a big victory over a war against a notorious child predator like Reuyl, however criticizing the absence of effective mechanisms in place to prevent children from repeat victimization by known sex offenders. He added that the court should consider deportation order in their ruling.
“This is one of many cases in which the offenders won’t stop abusing until they get caught. As in this case, without harsh punishment, this man will never stop”, said Vando Khoem, program director at APLE.
"Like APLE, Terre des Hommes welcomes the sentencing of Reuyl but it is very unfortunate that another child fell victim to this notorious predator before the authorities finally managed to stop him in his tracks," said Hans Guyt, Head Spec. Programmes & Campaigns at Terre des Hommes Netherlands.