HILLSBORO – Seren Kong was a lonely widow with five children when she met Dam Rath at a welfare office. He charmed her and made her feel wanted. Then, after moving into her house, he started molesting her two underage daughters.
Kong not only approved of the sexual abuse but also consented when Rath offered to pay her if she allowed the abuse to continue, prosecutors said. She took her youngest daughter for a car ride and told the 11-year-old girl of the arrangement. When the girl resisted, prosecutors said, Kong answered that if the daughter loved her mother, she'd do what she said.
Kong, 62, of Hillsboro pleaded guilty in Washington County Circuit Court Thursday to attempted rape, attempted sodomy and attempted compelling prostitution. Judge Thomas W. Kohl sentenced her to about 4 1/2 years in prison.
Rath, 54, was sentenced to more than 31 years in prison for the abuse of Kong's daughters, which occurred over two years. Rath served six years and three months in prison for shooting his wife to death in 1996.Seren KongSeren Kong
Police arrested Rath and Kong last November after her daughter told a friend about the abuse. The friend told a school counselor.
Deputy District Attorney Dan Hesson said Rath worked as a cook in a Thai restaurant and the money he paid Kong didn't amount to much. Kong was in the room when some of the abuse occurred, he said.
Kong's attorney, Ethan Levi, said Kong suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome after seeing people murdered in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge regime. She spent two years in a Thai refugee camp. Kong doesn't speak English and survives on disability checks.
"There are many, many mitigating facts in the case," Levi said. "The case didn't resolve fairly. The children didn't want this result to happen."
Hesson said if the case had gone to trial and Kong was convicted, she could have received a minimum of 25 years in prison. He said her daughters didn't want their mother to serve a long prison sentence, so prosecutors offered a lighter sentence in exchange for her testimony against Rath.
Hesson said the youngest daughter now lives with a relative and is doing well in school.