Posted with permission from dpa German Press Agency

Phnom Penh (dpa) - A senior monk in western Cambodia who confessed to sexually abusing 10 novices and then paying them to keep quiet and is to stand trial for child prostitution, police said Wednesday.

He gave the novices aged 11 to 17 between 50,000 and 100,000 riels (12.50 to 25 dollars) "to buy their silence before having sexual intercourse with them," Duong Thavary, head of the police juvenile protection bureau of Siem Reap province, told dpa.

Vung Chet was arrested on Sunday after he "confessed before us," the police officer was quoted as saying by the Cambodia Daily.

The boys were threatened with disciplinary action if they did not comply, the report said.

The police were tipped off by victims' families, Duong Thavary said.

Vung Chet was the chief monk at the pagoda for two years in Siem Reap, the province which is also home to Angkor Wat archeological site.

He was defrocked on Sunday before being arrested, as the law does not allow for monks to be taken in by law enforcement, the report said.

If convicted he could face 10 to 15 years in prison for child prostitution and five to 10 years for sex with a minor.

In Cambodia, it is not uncommon for monks to begin their training as small children, leaving home to live at a pagoda as novices under the care of older monks.

For boys from a poor background, it offers room and board as well as education, with monks some of the most educated members of society.

Sexual abuse of men and boys goes relatively unreported, compared to that of women, according to local NGO First Step Cambodia. The NGO estimates that around one in six men are sexually assaulted during their lives, according to 2013 research.