Monday’s edition of the Phnom Penh Post included an article about Sebastian Reuiji, a Dutch convicted pedophile who was recently released from police custody in Siem Reap province. Apparently, Reuji will not be deported from Cambodia, because Cambodian authorities often inexplicably allow known convicted foreign pedophiles to remain in the country to abuse Cambodian children again and again and again and again.
The Post’s article about Reuiji also included a brief update about Jason Todd Baumbach, a 45 year-old American from Burton, Michigan. Baumbach was arrested in Phnom Penh in September 2008 on charges of having sex with a thirteen year-old Cambodian girl. The press reported that Baumbach had known the girl for over a year and had a long term sexual relationship with her. Baumbach reportedly gained access to the girl by paying her school fees and asking her impoverished parents to allow him to act as her adoptive father.
In March 2009, Baumbach was sentenced by a Cambodian court to a term of thirteen years in prison. He was also ordered to pay $5,000 in compensation to his victim’s family. His lengthy prison sentence was imposed over the objection of his lawyer, Chap Keo, who simultaneously argued that Baumbach and the girl never had sex and that the girl’s family had given Baumbach permission to marry her when she turned eighteen.
Disturbingly, Baumbach’s thirteen year-old Cambodian victim may not be the only child he sexually abused. A Spanish child protection NGO reported in 2009 that Baumbach was wanted by Thai police for abusing a minor in Thailand in 2007, but he fled to Cambodia before Thai police could arrest him.
Baumbach currently resides at Prey Sar prison, located on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. Monday’s update on Baumbach’s case in the Post stated that the Supreme Court of Cambodia recently “upheld the seven-year imprisonment of US national Jason Todd Baumbach.” This is rather confusing, because Baumbach’s original sentence was reported to be thirteen years, not seven years. If the Cambodian Supreme Court has now changed that sentence to seven years, then the article should have said that the court “reduced” or “slashed” Baumbach’s sentence, not “upheld” it.
Baumbach’s original thirteen year sentence would have kept him in prison until 2021 or 2022, roughly seven years from now. Perhaps that’s what the Post reporter meant; that the Supreme Court has upheld the remaining seven years of Baumbach’s original sentence. If that’s not what he meant, and if the court reduced Baumbach’s sentence from thirteen years to seven, he could be released in 2015 or 2016, depending on whether he receives credit for time served from the date of his September 2008 arrest.
Regardless of whether Baumbach is getting out in 2015, 2016, or 2022, it appears that he, his Michigan family, and possibly even his former victim may be making big plans for his release. Baumbach recently announced via Facebook that he is engaged to local woman identified only as “Srey Pov,” a common Cambodian given name which literally means “the youngest girl.”
Baumbach and his fiancee have a joint Facebook “engagement page” stating that they met in August 2007. This is consistent with press reports that Baumbach had known his 13 year-old victim for over a year prior to his September 2008 arrest.
From her Facebook profile photos, Baumbach’s fiancee appears to be about 18 to 20 years old. His sexual abuse victim was reported to be 13 years old when he was arrested in 2008; she would be about 19 years old now.
(Note: K440 has disguised Srey Pov’s appearance.)
Additionally, Baumbach has commented on Facebook that he and “Srey Pov” have had a “tacit agreement for years” to get married. Baumbach’s lawyer argued in 2009 that the family of Baumbach’s 13 year-old victim had agreed to allow him to marry her when she turned eighteen.
In many countries, convicted sex offenders are prohibited from having contact with their victims, especially child victims, while serving their sentences. If Baumbach’s fiancee is his former 13 year-old sexual abuse victim, then it appears that they have had ongoing contact and a continuing romantic “relationship” throughout the duration of his imprisonment in Cambodia. If that is the case, Baumbach may have continued to exercise the same creepy psychological control over her that a 45 year-old sexual predator would be expected to have over the impoverished, teenage victim of his sexual abuse.
Remarkably, comments on Baumbach’s Facebook page also reveal that many of his friends and family members back in Michigan are quite supportive of his engagement and pending nuptials. A number of his Facebook friends “liked” his engagement announcement or posted “Congrats!” A relative named Kate Baumbach even commented that Baumbach would be a sympathetic figure on the American television talk show circuit. She posted, “Please tell me you will write a book after we close the current chapter and your boots hit MI soil…or snow since I’d like it to be soon and we are white washed here. I will help with promotion and publication Oprah is no longer on but I envision you on someone’s couch telling your tale to a dismayed studio audience. Congrats!”
Oprah Winfrey’s show may no longer be on the air, but we all know that Baumbach’s sleazy tale is much better suited for Jerry Springer. He responded to “Kate’s” Facebook post by saying, “Thanks! A book should be inevitable but the publication date will likely remain undetermined for a good while since the scope and angle have not yet solidified, however, I appreciate the encouragement and future promotion offer.” It’s rather scary to think that the “scope” of Baumbach’s book is “not yet solidified.” Is he planning to sexually abuse more children and write about that?
The logistics of how Baumbach plans to marry his young Cambodian fiancee remain unclear. In a refreshing change from usual Cambodian protocol, Baumbach is scheduled to be deported from Cambodia at the conclusion of his prison sentence. He would probably find it quite difficult to arrange a fiancee visa for his bride to be to join him to marry in the United States, given the nature and history of their romantic “relationship.”
Moreover, there is a possibility that Baumbach could still face further criminal charges for child sex crimes after he is deported from Cambodia. If the aforementioned 2009 report from a Spanish NGO is correct that Baumbach fled Thailand in 2007 to avoid arrest for abusing a minor there, Baumbach could be extradited to Thailand for prosecution after serving his sentence in Cambodia.
If his alleged abuse of the minor in Thailand was sexual in nature, he could also be prosecuted by the U.S. for that conduct under the 2003 “PROTECT Act,” a law which criminalizes child sex offenses committed by American citizens in foreign countries. There is also a remote possibility that the U.S. government could try to prosecute Baumbach under the “PROTECT Act” for the same sex offense for which he has already served time in Cambodia, although such a prosecution would face numerous legal hurdles and likely be hampered by a lack of cooperation from his Cambodian victim, to whom Baumbach may now be engaged.
Do you you have any thoughts or opinions on Jason Baumbach’s engagement? Please feel free to comment below or join the forum discussion here.