PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA — Cambodian police said Friday that at least 19 girls have accused a prominent Russian businessman of sexual abuse in what authorities are calling the biggest pedophilia case in the country's history.
Alexander Trofimov, 41, was arrested last month in the popular resort town of Sihanoukville on charges of raping at least six girls.
He was detained after the parents of a 14-year-old complained to police that their daughter had been sold to Trofimov by a trafficker in 2005.
Trofimov was later charged with debauchery, which under Cambodian law includes sexual abuse of children. Convictions on the charge carry a maximum sentence of 20 years for each offense.
Since his arrest, an additional 13 teen and preteen girls and their parents have filed criminal complaints against Trofimov, said Maj. Gen. Bith Kimhong, director of Cambodia's Anti-Human Trafficking force.
"This pedophile case involving the Russian is the biggest ever in Cambodia. So far we have interviewed 19 victims. Eleven are aged between 11 and 14 and eight are between 15 and 18," Bith Kimhong said in a phone interview.
According to police, three Cambodians also have been arrested and charged with conspiring to commit debauchery and trafficking girls for Trofimov.
"With the evidence that we gathered from our investigation we believe that it will be enough to convict him and bring him to justice," Bith Kimhong said after Trofimov's arrest in October.
A rights worker with the child protection agency Action Pour Les Enfants said an investigation of the Russian was begun in 2005, when some of the older of his alleged victims would have been younger than 15, Cambodia's legal age of consent.
At least two of the alleged victims were sold to the Russian by their parents, said Samleang Seila, director of Action Pour Les Enfants.
Trofimov led a high-profile Russian investment group in Cambodia for several years.
In September 2006, his Koh Puos (Snake Island) Investment Group was awarded a 99-year lease by the government to invest $300 million in an island off the Cambodian coast.
At the time, Trofimov appeared with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in a photograph of the signing ceremony.
In recent years, Cambodia has worked to shed its reputation as a destination for pedophiles.
In March, local media reported that two German men were sentenced to a total of 40 years for the sexual abuse of girls between the ages of 10 and 14. One of the girls' mothers was jailed for supplying the children to the men.