CHIANG MAI, THAILAND – Last week, the founder and director of a children’s home in Thailand was convicted for sexually assaulting two girls under his care. The girls were 7 and 8 years old when the assaults began, and the abuse continued for more than a year.
The girls are from very poor families, and their parents sent them to live at the shelter so they could receive free education. One day, one of the girl’s friends witnessed the director assaulting her friend. She told other girls in the shelter what she had seen, and eventually word got back to the girl’s mother. The mother contacted local authorities, who moved two girls to another children’s home.
It was in this new, safe environment that the girls opened up about the routine assaults by the shelter’s director. The home contacted IJM for legal assistance.
The director fled when he learned about the report filed against him. Eventually, he contacted the girls’ families in an attempt to bribe them to drop the case. The families agreed to meet with the man at a restaurant, and IJM helped set up hidden cameras to capture the man offering bribes. IJM then took this clear video evidence to the Thai police, compelling them to take action and make an arrest. On September 1, 2013, police arrested the man.
In early June 2014, the trial began. It lasted only three days; the children’s home director pled guilty on the first day. On June 17, he was sentenced to 88 years and 176 months for raping minors (however, under Thai law, the maximum prison-term for this crime is 50 years).
“This is the longest sentence in the history of IJM working on sexual assault cases,” says IJM’s lawyer Rittirong Kornrittidej, adding “it sends a huge message to everyone about the gravity of this crime.”