A twice-convicted Belgian paedophile who moved into a victim’s home after being released from a Cambodian prison plans to marry the victim’s mother, national media reported Tuesday.
Anti-trafficking police said Philippe Dessart, who was released from prison April 4, proposed to his victim’s mother shortly before he left for Belgium on June 3, The Cambodia Daily reported.
Dessart was released after serving three years of an 18-year prison term for abusing the then-13-year-old boy after a successful appeal of his sentence.
Anti-paedophile groups said in April that they were shocked to discover Dessart had moved in with his victim, now 16, after his release and expressed concern over a younger male sibling also living in the house.
Police said Dessart travelled to Belgium to arrange documents for the marriage and would return to Cambodia in the next few weeks.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced Belgian Philippe Dessart to 18 years in prison for child sex abuse, finding that the 47-year-old former teacher was an incorrigible repeat sex offender.
A Belgian court convicted Dessart of child rape and torture in 1994, sentencing him to five years, of which he served three.
Frederic Huyghe said that his brother Pierre, one of Dessart’s three Belgian victims, had expressed relief when told of the verdict but felt concern for the family of his Cambodian victim. “I know it ate at my father for years,” Huyghe said.
Dessart was arrested April 10 at a Phnom Penh guesthouse in the company of a boy, then 13 years old, who authorities said was naked and had engaged in sexual relations with Dessart for two to three years.
In his verdict, Ke Sakhorn said Dessart paid the victim’s family for access to the boy, whom he repeatedly abused. The Belgian had recanted an incriminating confession to police in an effort to escape prosecution, the judge said. “Philippe Dessart was incorrigible when he came to Cambodia and committed debauchery against the boy,” he added.
Dessart’s defense team had hammered away at length at the prosecution’s case, pointing out that all testimony implicating Dessart had been recanted and that police searched Dessart’s room without a warrant and provided no physical evidence. Dessart testified that police had offered to help him if he confessed to the crime.
However Keo Thea, deputy director of the municipal anti-trafficking police, said Dessart had freely confessed during interrogation and even acted out his relations with the boy.
“He said he wanted to marry [the boy] and I said only in the future when he becomes an adult,” Keo Thea testified.