SIEM REAP – A Cambodian court has sentended Dutch National Sebastian Reuyl, 44, for five years for sexually abusing children over a decade, after several police probes failed to stop his predatory crimes.
The conviction finally ended years of impunity for the child abuser, who once ran an orphanage in the impoverished Southeast Asian country.
Reuyl, who was sentenced Tuesday, was investigated by Cambodian police several times over allegations of grooming and abuse of minors but for years escaped conviction, according to APLE, a Cambodia-based watchdog that assisted with his arrest.
He was first convicted of abuse in the Netherlands in 2004 when he molested a 12-year-old boy while working as a sailing instructor.
He was jailed for a year and banned from working with children. But he fled to Cambodia, where he was found running an orphanage in Siem Reap 2009.
APLE said he was arrested by Cambodian police for allegedly abusing five children but released while awaiting trial, allowing him to reconnect with victims – some of whom later reversed their complaints in court.
Judges ultimately threw out the case citing a lack of evidence.
Reuyl stayed in Siem Reap, a popular stop on Cambodia’s tourist circuit, and groomed children by inviting them to his room to play video games.
He was detained again in 2013 but set free after a judge dropped abuse charges.
Reuyl was arrested for a third and final time in 2016 and convicted for “indecent acts against a minor” and child pornography against two victims.
“This is one of many cases in which the offenders won’t stop abusing until they get caught,” said APLE program director Vando Khoem.
In a statement the group hit out at “the absence of effective mechanisms… to prevent children from repeat victimisation by known sex offenders.”
Impoverished Cambodia is a notorious hub for foreign paedophiles, with weak and corrupt law enforcement helping insulate offenders from arrest. The country launched a drive to shed its reputation as a child sex hub in 2003 and has since prosecuted dozens of foreigners for sex crimes, but significant lapses in policing remain.