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US Man Arrested for Alleged Sex With Minor

An American man arrested on suspicion of sexually abusing a 13-year-old girl he had unofficially adopted from her parents will appear before prosecutors Friday for questioning, a court official and police said.

Jason Baumbach, 40, was arrested by anti-trafficking police at a rented house in Phnom Penh's Tuol Kork district on Tuesday. He was taken to Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday, but he was not questioned due to time constraints.

"I have not yet questioned him, because he was sent in the evening," said Deputy Prosecutor Sok Kalyan. "I will question him tomorrow."

Brig. Gen. Bith Kimhong, director of the Ministry of Interior's anti-trafficking and juvenile protection department, said Thursday Baumbach had confessed to "touching the body" of the girl and "kissing her" but had denied sexual relations with her.

Teng Manet, lawyer for the girl from the anti-trafficking group Action Pour Les Enfants, said the suspect had had sexual relations with the girls "many times" since 2007.

He had known the girl since last year, through her older sister, and had asked the girl's parents to be an adoptive father, Teng Manet said. He had paid the girl $100 per month to study English.

"Because her parents trusted that man, they allowed her to visit his house," Teng Manet said. "She frequently visited his house."

US Embassy spokesman John Johnson declined to comment specifically on the case but said the US "helps to aggressively enforce…a US law that makes it illegal for Americans to travel abroad to engage in illicit sexual contact with minors."

The first three successful prosecutions under the US law, called the PROTECT Act, have involved cases from Cambodia, Johnson said.