American and Cambodian Men Sentenced in Child Sexual Abuse Case

Siem Reap: On 17 January 2018, Siem Reap provincial court pronounced a verdict against a 79-year-old American child sex offender John Paul Zollbrecht and his Cambodian accomplice, Nheb Sophorn, 23, finding them guilty for the act of sexual intercourse with minor under 15 years by Article 42 of Law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation. The court sentenced Zollbrecht to one-year imprisonment and Sophorn to one and a half year.

In February 2017, the Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Police in Siem Reap arrested the American man on suspicion of child sexual abuse of a 10-year-old boy, while his Cambodian friend who was allegedly facilitating the relationship of abuse was also arrested on the same day for solicitation of child sex crime. APLE became concerned about Zollbrecht’s behaviour in the community and promptly acted in collaboration with police to gather evidence of abuse.

Over the past two years, Zollbrecht was known to travel to Cambodia’s world-heritage Angkor Wat town of Siem Reap a couple of times before his arrest and began to contact his victim through the community education project he managed in a village of Sror Nge commune. 

Although both offenders were convicted of their act, the victim family who also attended to hear the court’s judgment, expressed their dissatisfaction with the verdict and asked to appeal the sentencing. APLE will continue to work with the family and provide ongoing support to the boy during his rehabilitation process.   

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