Indonesia jails Australian man for 15 years for molesting girls

October 25, 2016 5:08 AM EDT

Robert Andrew Fiddes Ellis, a 70 year-old Australian accused of molesting girls, arrives at a Denpasar court to hear his verdict in Bali, Indonesia, October 18, 2016 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/Nyoman Budhiana/via REUTERS

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DENPASAR, Indonesia (Reuters) - An Indonesian court on Tuesday jailed an Australian man for 15 years for sexually molesting several girls on the resort island of Bali.

Robert Andrew Fiddes Ellis, 70, "groomed" and molested 11 girls aged between seven and 17 over a period of two years before he was arrested early this year.

"He has been proven to have molested children in Bali, which has a big impact for their future psychological development," presiding judge I Wayan Sukanila said, ordering Ellis to serve 15 years and pay a fine of 2 billion rupiah ($154,000).

Yanuar Nahak, a lawyer for Ellis, said his client would appeal against the sentence.

"We will appeal because we believe the judge was not objective in making the decision," Nahak said.

A string of pedophilia cases in Bali, several involving Australian citizens, has prompted police of the two countries to cooperate in preventing Australian child sex offenders from traveling to Indonesia.

Official data on sexual abuse remains scarce in Indonesia, where more than 90 percent of rapes go unreported, a recent survey by victim support group Lentera Sintas Indonesia has shown.

(Reporting by Reuters stringer in Denpasar; Writing by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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