Australian Faces Long Jail Term over Sex Charges

JAKARTA ~ An Australian man faces up to 15 years in jail after prosecutors accused him of abusing and molesting children.

Peter William Smith, 48, a London-born Australian citizen, who had been teaching English at a language school here, was accused by a prosecutor at the South Jakarta District Court on Wednesday of molesting several street children and videoing them in sexual acts.

Prosecutor Bayu Pramesti said that the defendant had, between 2003 and 2006, engaged in several criminal acts, including “intentionally using violence or the threat of violence, forcing his will on others, of tricking others, of lying or of persuading children to engage in or let themselves to be the object of sexual acts.”

Under laws protecting children, the defendant faces between three and 15 years in jail and fines of between Rp60 million and Rp300 million (US$6,580-$32,900).

Smith, who has been in the country for seven years, also recorded some of the children taking part in sex acts, the prosecutor said.

For the sexual favors, he paid the children Rp40,000, and an additional Rp50,000 if they were filmed, the prosecutor said.

Most of the victims were teenage street children.

The prosecutor also said several video tapes containing different boys committing sex acts were found in his south Jakarta home.

The indictment gave a detailed account of six teenage boys aged 15-17, allegedly molested by the defendant, the prosecutors said.

The prosecutor also said the defendant engaged the services of one of his former victims to look for other victims, promising cash rewards.

Smith was arrested on August 6, after seven street boys approached social welfare workers complaining of being sexually abused by him.

Welfare activists have claimed that at least 40 children have been abused by Smith, but that only seven have so far complained.

The reading of the indictment was open to the public but further hearings, including the testimony of the witnesses, would be closed to the public, court officials said.

Another Australian has been arrested in Lombok, and will also face charges over suspected child sex.

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