Investigators, led by Banglamung and Anti-Human Trafficking Department police, said one or two other suspects are believed to have molested children at the home where the much-publicized rape of a 4-year-old girl was reported Aug. 29. One of the suspects, police said, is 15 years old and left the facility in mid-August.
The young victim points to Noi Khamsri, one of the men she says raped her.
The revelations of possible additional abuse at Chonburi Child Care emerged as Minister of Social Development and Human Stability Paveena Hongsakula removed the center’s director and transferred three other boys to the state-run Ban Mit Maitree “welfare house” for the homeless. No reason was disclosed for the boys’ transfer.
Daoruang Naram, 42, filed a complaint with Banglamung police Aug. 29 after retrieving her daughter from the Rong Poh home and discovering bruises and obvious signs of sexual abuse. The child had been living at the center for two months while Daoruang, a bar worker in Pattaya, was in jail on a drug-use conviction.
Daoruang told police that her daughter said an older boy had assaulted and sodomized her repeatedly for the entire two months. The most-recent attack, she said, occurred the day she was released and was committed by the departed 15-year-old suspect identified only as “Art.”
Police, however, have arrested Noi Khamsri, 57, for allegedly raping the young girl. A disabled former police officer living in the home’s male dormitory, Noi denied the charges, saying at first he didn’t know the girl then, later, admitting he knew her well, but never molested her.
Police said the child positively identified Noi as one of her attackers.
Noi was a corporal in the Royal Thai Police’s Special Branch until he was convicted on drug charges in 1975. He later was disabled by arthritis in his hip and became homeless. For several years Noi lived at the Bangpakong Home for Persons with Disabilities in Chachoengsao, but in recent years discovered he was HIV-positive. At that point he requested to be moved to an AIDS care center in Rayong. While awaiting for his transfer to be completed, he’d been housed temporarily at the Chonburi Child Care Home.
Noi told police that the victim often pushed his wheelchair, but he never thought of her in sexual terms.
The abuse report has set off a media firestorm which quickly brought Social Development Minister Paveena into the scandal. A day after the news broke, Paveena, who took over the ministry in July after years of running her eponymous Paveena Hongsakula Foundation for Children and Women, inspected the center, declaring its security measures woeful and decrying the lack of separation between adults and children.
The Chonburi Care Home, she said, had no working closed-circuit television cameras and that young children mix freely with homeless, mentally unstable and disabled adults. She immediately ordered the removal of center Director Saowanee Khomphat, sent the victim to the Forensic Institute at Police Hospital for examination, placed the child in the care of the Paveena Hongsakula Foundation and awarded her and her mother 10,000 baht for expenses.
The minister also ordered the immediate inspection, renovation and upgrade of security systems at all Thailand child-care centers under the ministry’s jurisdiction.