Man who sexually assaulted vacationing American has sentence cut in half

An American mother is outraged after the man convicted of sexually assaulting her vacationing daughter in Thailand had his sentence cut in half, according to reports Friday.

“I am dismayed that it is automatically cut down to five years because of a guilty plea,” Gwen Gavios, the victim’s mother, told the New York Times via email.

Her daughter, 23-year-old Hannah Gavios, was teaching English in Vietnam when she decided to take a quick trip to nearby Krabi in Thailand last month. She asked a local tourist shop for directions back to her hotel where 28-year-old Apai Ruangwong led her to the woods and started attacking her, according to investigators.

Gavios was able to escape, but fell off a 150-foot cliff, breaking her spine and preventing her from moving for hours. She said the attacker eventually found her where he called for help, but not before continuing his assault, groping her and masturbating over her.

Ruangwong’s original sentence of ten years was automatically cut in half upon his guilty plea. Somchai Buakiri, a local prosecutor in Krabi, said the verdict is final 30 days after sentencing. In those 30 days, both sides have the opportunity to appeal the decision. Ruangwong’s sentencing date has not yet been announced.

Gavios, from New York, is back home where she is hospitalized, unable to feel her ankles, feet or backside, learning to walk again using crutches and custom leg braces, the Times reports.

Relatives say they’re especially disappointed in the reduced sentence because while Ruangwong may be in jail for a finite time, Gavios will be dealing with these injuries for the rest of her life.