Sexual Harassment Trial Held Against Khmer Times Publisher

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T. Mohan. the publisher of Khmer Times. Image: Social Media
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A sexual harassment trial against the publisher of the Khmer Times newspaper was held in absentia at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday morning after neither defendant T. Mohan nor a defense lawyer appeared for the hearing.

The case relates to allegations raised in 2019 by former reporter April Reposar, who previously said that she had resigned from the newspaper and returned to her home country to get away from repeat propositions of money for sex. Mohan denied the allegations at the time.

Judge Koy Sao on Tuesday morning read out the case file, beginning with an alleged incident on May 9, 2019 when Reposar and Mohan attended an event hosted by the E.U. at the Raffles Le Royal hotel in Phnom Penh. There, Mohan allegedly offered an apartment to Reposar and said, “You stay there for me if I need you.” The complaint said that the two continued to chat through WhatApp with Mohan asking about sex.

A statement from Reposar’s lawyer that was read out in court said there was abuse of power and sexual harassment, and the plaintiff sought $100,000 in compensation.

Sexual harassment is defined in the Criminal Code as abusing one’s authority over another person to repeatedly apply pressure for sexual favors. It is punishable by six days to three months in prison.

Speaking at the trial, the plaintiff’s lawyer Ham Phea elaborated that Mohan had tried to persuade Reposar into having sex, and because of the pressure, fear and concern for her safety, she resigned from work.

Prosecutor Sok Keobandith did not give an argument during the trial.

Outside court, Phea said he was not sure why neither Mohan nor defense lawyer showed up, but the trial would be considered as having been conducted in absentia, and the accused would be able to contest the verdict.

Mohan has not yet responded to questions emailed on Tuesday morning, but previously denied Reposar’s allegations, saying that chat logs supplied by her were “heavily redacted and distorted,” she had borrowed hundreds of dollars from him, and Reposar was the one to suggest becoming his “partner.”

Judge Sao is scheduled to announce a verdict on May 23.

Reposar said in an email from the Philippines on Tuesday that she had been feeling “a bit anxious” about the hearing, but wanted to see it push through.

“I want to win this case because it is the truth. He traumatized me and nothing, not even an apology can compensate for that,” she said. “I hope that he will never do it to any vulnerable and hopeless women again.”

Additional reporting by Michael Dickison

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