Thimphu dzongkhag court sentenced a 37-year-old man to three years in prison for molesting two minor girls on the night of March 8 last year.

Karma Lhendup from Lachen village in Trashiyangtse was given a non-compoundable prison term for molesting a 16-year-old girl and her younger sister in Lanjophaka in Thimphu.

The judgment rendered last week stated that Karma Lhendup was found guilty of violating section 203 of the Penal Code of Bhutan 2004, which states, “A defendant shall be guilty of the offence of child molestation if the defendant molests a child.”

Office of the Attorney General (OAG) charged him for child molestation after the 16-year-old girl claimed that the defendant molested her and her younger sister.

In her statement to police, the girl claimed that her parents and friends, including defendant Karma Lhendup, had alcohol at their house on March 8 last year and when others left their house around 10:20pm, Karma Lhendup refused to go home, saying he was alone and wanted to stay at their house.

She said her parents made him sleep in the room that she shared with her sister and two brothers. “Around 11:30pm I felt someone touching me inappropriately and saw Karma Lhendup sitting near our bed. When I covered myself with the blanket, he started touching my sister. I then called my mother for help.”

She said that when she shared what happened to her parents, they chased Karma Lhendup out of the house but he refused to leave.

The parents then called the police.

The defendant contended that he was drunk that night and was not in a position to molest the girls. He also asked the prosecutors to prove the claims with medical reports.

Karma Lhendup also claimed that police took his statement when he was under the influence of alcohol before the court.

OAG charges state that Karma Lhendup initially told the family members in front of a witness that when he went to the toilet, he saw a woman sleeping and he touched her inappropriately because he assumed it was the woman he drank alcohol with.

“But when a girl started calling her mother, I remembered it was my friend’s daughter,” the judgment stated.

The court ruled that all the evidence and statements showed that he molested the girls and convicted him.

The crime is graded a fourth-degree felony with prison term ranging from three years to five years in prison.

The judgment stated that since he did not have a prior criminal record, he was given the minimum sentencing of three years.

Tashi Dema