LYNDEN - A Whatcom County man must serve five months in jail and faces deportation for taking explicit photos of a sleeping teenager.
Kee Painpraseut, 40, knew the 19-year-old woman when he walked into her room in February and took pictures of her naked. The young woman sometimes takes a medicine that makes her sleep through almost anything, according to her mother. Painpraseut had been drinking.
"I'd had drink a Whole Bottle of Yokon Jack 100 proof" (sic), he later wrote in an apology letter. "I woke up Remembering What I did. I ask myself what the Hell did I do! I was a shame of it! I try to delet it! but it had auto backup to google cloud."
Seven weeks later his wife found them, as she flipped through the photos on his phone. She confronted him. At first he insisted the photos - close-up pictures of genitals - were of the wife, she said. But she recognized the young woman's bright green nail polish.
Once Painpraseut found out his wife had called 911, he drove to a friend's house on Axton Road. He was arrested that day. He pleaded guilty in July to one count of voyeurism, a class C felony.
At a sentencing hearing Thursday, Aug. 28, in Whatcom County Superior Court, his wife explained why she didn't want a trial: She didn't want the victim to ever see Painpraseut again, and she didn't want a jury to see the photos. She called the suggested jail time, of a few months, a slap on the wrist for "a crime against children."
"He's not a pedophile, this is not a crime against children," said his public defender, Shoshana Paige. "What he did was a single act."
Painpraseut's criminal history dates back two decades. He's been convicted of domestic violence assault in the fourth degree, illegal possession of a firearm, trespassing, burglary of a home, negligent driving, and a misdemeanor for failing to properly shuck oysters.
One crime on his record shows a "disturbing similarity" to the most recent case, according to a Department of Corrections evaluator. Painpraseut crept into his ex-girlfriend's apartment in September 2000 while she slept. From a bedroom doorway he watched for about 20 minutes before getting an urge to touch her. She woke up to find him caressing her upper thigh and genitals, according to Ferndale police records. Prosecutors charged him with residential burglary and indecent liberties; he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of indecent exposure.
Painpraseut grew up in refugee camps in Cambodia before coming to the United States at the age of 8. For this latest felony, his third, an immigration court will almost certainly order him to return to his home country, his public defender said.
"I'm losing everything I've ever work for!" (sic), Painpraseut wrote in a letter in his case file. "From now on I'm going to do what is right! May GOD be witness to that!"
He echoed some of those statements at his sentencing hearing Thursday: He blamed himself, not alcohol. He said he hoped that, in time, his wife and family would come to forgive him. But as he finished his sentence, from across the courtroom his wife shot back: "I will never forgive you."
She said ex-inmates had been coming to her home to drop off letters of apology from Painpraseut and folded paper roses.
"I never had an inkling," she said, "that he was a predator and a pedophile."