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Accused Pedophiles Transferred to US

Three Americans arrested for pedophilia in Cambodia in 2008 were taken into US custody Monday, arriving in Los Angeles after being held in Phnom Penh, the US Embassy said Tuesday.

All three were arrested by national police in February, having allegedly traveled to Cambodia to procure sex from underage boys and girls, the embassy said.

Ronald Gerard Boyajian, 49, reportedly traveled to Cambodian in September 2008 and allegedly engaged in sexual activity with a 10-year-old girl from Vietnam, at Kilometer 11, an area on the outskirts of the capital frequented by child sex tourists.

Erik Leonardus Peeters, 41, was accused of sexual acts with three underage Cambodian boys.

Jack Louis Sporich, 75, is accused of abusing one underage boy, and, according to affidavits against him, would ride through the streets of Siem Reap on a motorcycle, throwing money to attract children.

The charges against them “clearly demonstrate to the Cambodian people that the United States will not tolerate this type of abuse,” US Ambassador Carol Rodley said.

The cases sent a signal to the victims that the US is committed to justice, and would “act as a powerful deterrent” for would-be pedophiles traveling to Cambodia, she said.

The arrests came from cooperation between the Cambodian government, local organizations and US authorities, in an ongoing operation called Twisted Traveler, the embassy said.

Lt. Gen. Khieu Sopheak, a spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, told VOA Khmer the arrests were a “positive sign” for the reduction of sexual exploitation of children.

“I understand that this is to strengthen the law and is the result of cooperation between the concerned authorities to eliminate this problem,” he said.

Seila Samneang, the country director of Action Pour Les Enfants told VOA Khmer the group was happy “three bad men” had left Cambodia “to face strong condemnation in the United States.”

“We hope these three dangerous men will be strongly controlled in the United States, and we hope they will not have any opportunity to make relations with children abroad,” she said.

Twelve offenders in 30 reported cases of sexual exploitation of children were arrested in 2008, she said, while 40 child victims from ages 8 to 16 had been rescued. This year, 24 offenders have so far been arrested, and some 70 children rescued.