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American Charged With Child Prostitution

Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday charged an American man with the purchase of a child for prostitution, for alleged sexual relations with a 13-year-old girl.

Jason Baumbach, 40, is accused of paying school fees for the girl in exchange for sex, a crime that carries up to 15 years in prison under a new law.

Deputy Prosecutor Sok Kalyan said Friday Baumbach was charged under Article 34 of the "Law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation," which prohibits sexual conduct with a minor while promising or providing money or anything of value to a minor or guardians.

Baumbach was arrested at his Tuol Kork home on Tuesday.

Cambodia has been working to improve a tarnished image as a haven for pedophiles and sexual predators, and a US State Department trafficking report issued earlier this year said authorities had made some progress toward combating the crime.

At the home of the girl, in a rundown apartment building in Prampi Makara district, parents declined to be interviewed Friday, but they showed reporter a picture of their daughter, who is now under the protective custody of a non-governmental organization.

Teng Manet, the lawyer of the family, alleged Friday the girl would visit Baumbach to receive money for school and would be invited into his room, where she was raped.

Brig. Gen. Bith Kimhong, head of the Ministry of Interior's anti-trafficking and juvenile protection department, said Friday that police have arrested seven foreigners and 13 Cambodians since January on suspicion of pedophilia.

Of the foreigners, three were American and arrested in Phnom Penh and four were from other countries and arrested in the beach resort town of Sihanoukville.