PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – A Cambodian court on Tuesday sentenced a Frenchman with a history of allegations of child molestation to seven years in prison for paying for sex with minors.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court found Jacques Philippe Albertini, 71, guilty of sexually molesting three boys and paying them up to $10 per encounter. The court ordered Albertini to pay 15 million riel ($3,750) in compensation to each of the boys, all aged 12 at the time they were abused.
Albertini has maintained his innocence, and his lawyer says they will appeal Tuesday's decision. During his trial on Aug. 13, Albertini said he had given the boys money out of simple kindness.
Poverty and poor law enforcement have made Cambodia a magnet for foreign pedophiles, but in recent years police and courts have increasingly cracked down on sex offenders.
The child protection group Action Pour Les Enfants said Albertini has a record of alleged child molestation spanning 16 years and three countries. It said French authorities questioned Albertini in the 1990s about alleged sexual acts with minors, and he was charged in Thailand in 1999 and 2000 with abusing boys, but the charges were dropped.
Since coming to Cambodia in 2004, he was arrested twice previously on suspicion of child abuse, the group said, but avoided judgment when the children's families dropped their complaints in the first case and the court declared there was insufficient evidence in the second.
He was arrested again in May 2012 after police received fresh complaints from families.