American woman in Thailand breaks spine after fleeing alleged molester, falling off cliff

An American tourist is recovering Wednesday in a hospital in Thailand after breaking her spine while tumbling down a cliff trying to escape from a man who allegedly was molesting her.

The 23-year-old woman, identified as Hannah Gavios, was attacked last Thursday in the southern seaside province of Krabi, a popular tourist destination, police said. Investigators work at the scene of an explosion in the resort town of Hua Hin, 240 kilometers (150 miles) south of Bangkok, Thailand Friday, Aug. 12, 2016. The blast followed a series of two explosions in Hua Hin Thursday evening that left one person dead and a number injured. (AP Photo/Jerry Harmer) Thailand tourism takes another hit as bombs explode near beach resorts

The woman told police that she lost her way in the mountain terrain in Krabi province and asked help from local residents in returning to her accommodation the night of Sept. 1.

Police said that a man who offered to help guide her back to her hotel at night took her down a remote path and made sexual advances, including attempting to remove her clothes. She said she fought back, biting his ear before running away, only to plunge down a 45-metre cliff.

Gavios, an English teacher from New York currently working in Vietnam, was found by rescuers the next morning and is now recovering after surgery.

National Park Officials found the suspect and turned him over to police where he confessed.

According to Krabi Tourist Police Inspector Attapong Sanjaiwut, the alleged attacker said that the account of sexual assault was a misunderstanding, and that he stayed by the woman's side part of the night and called rescuers in the morning.

The alleged attacker faces five to 20 years in prison if convicted of causing serious injury and obscene behaviour toward another person. Attapong said police sent an initial report Wednesday to prosecutors, who are waiting to take testimony from the victim before she leaves Thailand. He suggested the woman might be able to leave for the United States in about 10 days.

The incident is the latest in a number of sexual harassment and assault cases involving foreigners in Thailand.

In March, five Cambodian fishermen confessed to raping and assaulting two French woman on Koh Kood Island near the Cambodian border.

In December, two migrant workers from Myanmar were found guilty by a Thai court for sexual assault and the murder of two British tourists on the resort of Koh Tao.

Thailand welcomed almost 30 million foreign visitors last year, and tourism is one of the country's important revenue earners.

Thai officials say they lack adequate manpower to ensure safety for all visitors

Source: Global News