KESHAV P. KOIRALA
KATHMANDU: Nepal Police’s Central Investigation Bureau said it has arrested a US citizen, identified as Kenneth Joseph Coombs, on charge of paedophilia and rescued five children from his clutches.
The CIB said the 48-year-old man (passport number 517817112) from Illinois of the US was a serial paedophile and had been visiting Nepal regularly.
He introduced himself as apps designer, according to SP Dibesh Lohani of the CIB.
A profile on PsychicWorld.com, introduces Coombs as a professional Tarot reader “with over 30 years of experience”. “I am the author of 2 books about Tarot and 2 mobile apps,” Coombs has written.
His Facebook profile shows that Coombs is from Collinsville in Illinois, and he studied Chemistry at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville.
This time Coombs arrived in Kathmandu on August 23 and had been staying at the Thamel-based Hotel Yambu.
He had allegedly taken help of 21-year-old youth — identified as Buddha Putawar aka Lucche, a resident of Swayambhu of Kathmandu — to lure children into temptation of money and bring them to the Thamel-based hotel, where the suspected paedophile would prey on them.
Police arrested Coombs and Putawar from the premises of Hotel Yambu in Thamel, one of the most happening tourist hubs in Kathmandu, on Friday, September 9. They rescued five children, aged 12 to 16, who were taken to the suspected paedophile by Putawar.
With suspicion that he could have filmed his sexual activities with the victims, police seized Coombs’ laptop, camera and mobile phone also.
Sex Offender Archive Record, a database of sexual offenders in the US, has listed one Kenneth J Coombs as a sex offender in Indiana.
Record shows this person was arrested for “criminal sexual assault/cant consent” in Columbus city, Bartholomew County of Indiana. But it is yet to be verified if he is the same person who has been arrested now in Nepal.
Both Coombs and Putawar have posted their photographs taken along with many young boys on their Facebook accounts.
The CIB swung into action after receiving complaints from some of the alleged victims.
“Before arresting Coombs and Putawar and releasing five children from their clutches, three other victims were already in our contact,” SP Lohani said.
Preliminary investigation revealed that the suspected paedophile had preyed on dozens of Nepali children that his aide would bait for him from different places, according to SP Lohani. All the victims are said to be boys in their teens.
The Coombs-Putawar duo were presented before the Kathmandu District Court and remanded in custody for further investigation, the CIB said.
They face human trafficking and child sex abuse charges.