US Missionary Tried for Sex Crimes at Orphanage

Phnom Penh Municipal Court tried a U.S. national on Saturday for committing sex crimes against five boys at a local orphanage he ran, a court official said Sunday.

Daniel Johnson, 35, was arrested in Phnom Penh in December last year for al­legedly abusing boys in his care when he worked as head of the evangelical Christian organization Hope Transitions, which operated the Home of Hope orphanage in Meanchey district. 

Presiding Judge Kim Rathnarin confirmed that Mr. Johnson was tried on Saturday and said one of the boys had changed his testimony in court, but declined to elaborate.

Chea Nara, a lawyer for three of the five boys, said the two others did not appear in court.

The mother of one of them has withdrawn her complaint against Mr. Johnson, while another boy who testified on Saturday changed his story, saying the accused man did not touch him on purpose, Mr. Nara said.

Samleang Seila, country director of anti-pedophile NGO Action Pour Les Enfants, which helped investigate Mr. Johnson, said it is not unusual for victims of child sexual abuse to recant.

“We believe that we still have a strong case against [Mr. Johnson] with the consistent testimonies of Sunday and the evidence collected during the investigation,” he added.

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