A student and television presenter who was detained after a tycoon accused her of theft has filed a complaint against the tycoon alleging he tried to rape her, leading to calls for justice for the woman across social media.
Mean Pich Rita, a university student born in 2001 and a presenter for the show “MyTV,” was arrested on Sunday and sent to pretrial detention, according to a letter signed by Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s investigating judge Koy Sao on Tuesday. The student was arrested in Toul Kork district’s Toek La’ak II commune for allegedly stealing an iPhone 12 Pro Max from tycoon Heng Sier and stabbing Sier two times.
Following charges for theft with violence under Articles 353 and 357 of the Criminal Code on Tuesday afternoon, a video of Pich Rita crying and holding her mother was shared widely among social media and Khmer news outlets, as was her account of an attempted rape that she filed to the municipal court.
“I am just a little girl. … I hate myself,” she says in the video circulated Tuesday, in which she is seen leaning into her mother’s shoulder and crying. “Mom, I want to go home. He had a gun.”
Pich Rita, also known as Yubi, filed the court complaint on Tuesday.
Sier — who directs four businesses in glass manufacturing, construction and import-export, according to OpenCorporates — allegedly contacted her through Telegram after she attended an opening ceremony of a shop owned by Sier’s daughter.
Sier asked for her contact so that Pich Rita could present at other events, the complaint continues, but Sier purportedly did not discuss business with her.
Sier sent Pich Rita money five times, in sums ranging from $50 to $350, though she claims she did not accept the money, saying she did not need it.
The tycoon also sent her messages saying he wanted to meet and get to know her, and had once sent her pornography, though he later deleted the message. The message “made her wonder,” but she still believed his intentions were not malicious, according to the complaint.
On May 4, Sier asked to meet Pich Rita to give her rice, fish sauce and other goods she could distribute to families affected by Covid-19, and she agreed to meet him at Kilometr 4 market in Toek La’ak II commune that afternoon.
Pich Rita says in the complaint that he began saying obscene words to her when she stepped into the car, and that he had a gun.
“When we were in the car, he used sexual words to me and often his hand touched [my] thighs and genitals often,” she says in the complaint. “He said he had not had sex for a long time because his wife had not allowed him to have sex since vaccinating [against] Covid. He wanted to have sex and wanted to take me to a guesthouse, so I told him not to.”
Pich Rita moved to the back seat of the car, exited and ran home. She did not report the incident to her mother to prevent her from worrying, the complaint continues. She was later arrested and detained by Toul Kork district police on May 8 without explanation before she was taken to Phnom Penh Municipal Court for questioning, it says. The date of her arrest differs from the court notice for her pretrial detention for theft, which said she was arrested on May 9. She has also been variously listed as 19 and 20 years old.
In the video shared after Pich Rita was charged, she is emotional, saying Sier wanted to rape her.
“I am disgusted with myself,” she says. “When I close my eyes, I see him touching me. He had a gun and wanted to touch me. I was very scared. He wanted to hurt me. I want to go to my home in Khmer country, why are they doing this! They want a young woman. … They lurk after us but we do not agree, and they want to rape us and when they cannot rape, they charge us.”
Sier could not be reached for comment.
Multiple celebrities and social media users shared the video and Pich Rita’s court complaint on Tuesday night and Wednesday, using the tag #JusticeForYubi.
Rapper Tempo Tris wrote on his Facebook page on Wednesday that anyone with money and power can “sit on the law.”
“Because [another person’s] sex desires can cause a girl nightmares attached to her, and anytime she’s reminded about it, she suffers it.”
Influencer Tep Boprek also called for justice for Pich Rita, warning to “not let paper [money] weigh more than the truth.”
“How would you feel if your daughter, sister, mother, who is the gender of a woman, said such hurtful words?” she wrote.
Women’s Affairs Ministry spokesperson Sar Sineth said the ministry was working with lawyers provided by the prime minister to find justice for Pich Rita. They would also work with national police on the case, Sineth said.
“We are contacting the family of the victim and the victim to provide mental health counseling,” she said.