A Canadian man reportedly accused of sexually abusing four homeless teenage boys in Vietnam was sentenced Wednesday to four years in prison in Hanoi.
An official of the court in Hanoi, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of court policy, said Vadim Scott Benderman, 45, admitted in the half-day trial that he lured the boys to his house and paid them $10 to $15 to have sex.
According to the reports, police allege he met the boys between the ages of 13 and 15 at a lake in the city's centre, gave them food and let them play with his iPad before luring them to his rented house.
The court official said Benderman admitted that he abused each boy from one to three times over a period of several months until his arrest last June.
Lighter sentence for confession
"The defendant's crime was very serious for society," the official quoted the verdict as saying. "It infringed upon the normal development of the boys."
Child sexual abuse carries a penalty of three to seven years in jail. Benderman was given less than the maximum sentence because of his sincere confession, the official said.
The court also ordered that Benderman be expelled from the country after serving his sentence, the official said.
Benderman, formerly of Montreal, was arrested after police allege he was caught in the act with a 15-year-old boy.
It's reported he arrived in Vietnam in June 2014 on a tourist visa, but later began teaching English at a foreign language centre in Hanoi.
Canadian officials aware of case
A spokesman for Global Affairs Canada says it was aware of a Canadian citizen facing legal proceedings in Vietnam but could not comment on the case due to privacy concerns.
"Canadian officials are providing consular assistance to the individual and his family as required," Francois Lasalle said in an email.
Several media outlets say he had previously worked as a teacher in Thailand and in South Korea.
A former friend says Benderman was a charismatic performer with a strong following in the Seoul music scene in 2007 and 2008.
"He had groupies and stuff, he had women specifically who would make a beeline to him because they knew him," said Shelton Bumgarner, who ran a local music magazine at the time.
Videos posted on YouTube show Benderman singing with a band at a bar in Seoul.
"The defendant's crime was very serious for society."
His biography on IMDB says he was born in Kyiv and moved to Montreal when he was eight. He quickly developed an interest in performing and went on to attend an art school in the U.S., the site says.
He eventually moved to New York City then back to Montreal, where he worked as a floor manager for the Montreal Canadiens for two seasons before heading to Seoul, it says. He stayed in the South Korean capital for a decade, the site says.
Aside from performing with several bands, "to most Koreans Vadim was seen as one of the country's most recognizable foreign faces for his work in television, commercials, and film, often playing explosive edgy characters," the biography says.
— With files from The Associated Press