CHIANGRAI TIMES – Phayon Udom, 58 a former physical education teacher accused of repeatedly raping one of his young students over a period of four years was found dead in his cell in northern Thailand on Saturday, local media reported on Sunday.
Udom had been accused of repeatedly raping a student over a period of four years, starting when the victim was 11-years-old. He reportedly used video footage of the first rape to blackmail the girl into having more sex and not telling her parents or authorities.
Phayon was found hanging from the bars of his cell in a police station in Lampang Province on Saturday morning, according to a report from the Bangkok Post. Police said the suspect, who had been detained alone, tore a blanket into strips and used it to hang himself.
According to the report, the mother of the victim first filed a police complaint against Phayon in 2010 and accused the teacher of repeatedly raping her daughter, starting when the girl was 11 and a student of his. As a result of the complaint, Phayon was fired from his job and arrested on a rape charge, but was later released on bail.
Last month, however, the girl went missing from her home and later called her mother to ask her to drop the complaint against Phayon. Police spotted the girl on Friday as she was out to buy food in Pathum Thani province, where she and Phayon were staying in a rented apartment.
The former teacher was later taken into custody on the rape accusations and kidnapping, although it was not immediately clear if the girl – now 15 – had left voluntarily with Phayon. A police official told the Bangkok Post that an initial examination of the girl found no traces of a physical assault.
The age of consent in Thailand is 15 as specified by article 279 of the Thai Criminal Code. The current legislation applies to all regardless of gender and/or sexual orientation.
However parts of the Prevention and Suppression of Prostitution Act, which disallow any sexual contact with prostitutes under the age of 18, are widely interpreted by some local authorities to cover sexual acts classed as “obscenity for personal gratification”. Also from the Penal Code Amendment Act of 1997 Section 283bis, having sex with a child under 18 is a compoundable offense even with the consent of that person. The parent or the child may file charges against the other side if he or she later regrets his or her own action. This ostensibly makes the Thai unfettered age of consent 18.
A high profile example of this application of the law was a statutory rape charge filed against the lead singer of the Thai band Big Ass for allegedly having had sex with a (then) 16 year old girl. The charge was filed by the girl after the singer refused to take responsibility for her baby. The singer has since been cleared of being the baby’s father due to the results of a paternity test and he received 2 years suspended sentence