A US federal court has found American Ronald Boyajian guilty of sexually assaulting minors in Cambodia, according to local media reports.
Boyajian, convicted on Monday by a US district court in California, was one of three Americans extradited from the Kingdom in 2009 as part of the US government’s “Operation Twisted Traveler”, which targeted US citizens suspected of travelling to Cambodia to engage in sexual activity with underage victims.
LA’s City News Service reported that the 55-year-old came to Cambodia more than 30 times between 2002 and 2009 to abuse Vietnamese girls aged between 8 and 11 in the then-notoriously brothel-ridden “Kilo 11” suburb of Phnom Penh.
Four of his victims testified before the court. One spoke of how Boyajian paid her grandmother to leave her alone with him in a shed, where she was then raped, bitten and beaten.
Boyajian has reportedly tried to delay court proceedings with the lodging of numerous motions over the past six years, the latest being for the removal of presiding judge Christina Snyder, made minutes before the jury returned its guilty verdict.
Monday’s conviction was not Boyajian’s first. In 1994 he was found guilty of nearly two dozen counts of statutory rape, according to City News Service.
Sentencing is set for June 13; Boyajian is eligible for up to 30 years in jail.
Boyajian, who represented himself in Los Angeles, engaged Cambodian lawyer Kong Sam Onn last month to challenge the legality of his extradition.
Sam Onn yesterday reiterated his client’s long-stated belief that he was framed. “He [said] that he is not guilty and claimed that all the accusations were fake. He believed some people behind this want to put a bad thing on him, especially the Operation Twisted Traveler,” he said.