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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russian Suspected in Sex Case

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- Nineteen girls have claimed they were sexually abused by a Russian businessman who was arrested in Cambodia last month -- the largest number of Cambodian children to allege abuse by one person in a pedophilia case, police said.

Alexander Trofimov, 41, the chairman of Koh Puos Investment Group, was detained in the southern resort town of Sihanoukville and accused of raping at least six girls. He was charged Oct. 17 with debauchery -- a Cambodian legal term for sexual abuse of children.

Investigations since his arrest indicate that he may have abused as many as 19 girls, said police Major General Bit Kimhong.

"This is a first," Bit Kimhong said, noting that most pedophile cases in Cambodia involve the abuse of up to three victims. "Never has there ever been anything like this."

The victims are now aged from 11 to 18 but were younger at the time of the alleged abuse, said Samleang Seila, director of child advocacy group Action Pour Les Enfants, an organization that has been investigating Trofimov since 2005.

It was not immediately clear if all the girls were under 15 -- the age of consent -- when the alleged abuse occurred.

If convicted of debauchery, Trofimov could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison for each offense.