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Asian ‘cultural diversity’ children’s book author, 41, is charged with grooming a 13-year-old girl in Sydney

An Asian author of children’s books which push multiculturalism and diversity has been charged with child grooming offences in Sydney.

Oliver Phommavanh, 41, was charged with using a carriage service to groom a person under 16 years old for sex and using a carriage service procure a child for sexual activity on Friday after allegedly sending inappropriate photos and videos to a person he thought was a 13-year-old girl.

NSW Police arrested the writer, who tours Australian schools presenting his popular books to students, at a home in Old Guildford, western Sydney, at about 8am on Friday, and seized several electronic devices.

Detectives from the State Crime Command’s Sex Crimes Squad will allege Phommavanh “used his position as a children’s author to engage inappropriately with children online”.

“Strike force detectives launched an investigation in early May 2024, after receiving an interstate report a children’s author was allegedly communicating inappropriately with a child on online,” police said on Saturday.

“During the investigation, the man allegedly sent inappropriate photos and videos to – who he believed – was a 13-year-old girl.”

Sydney-based children's author Oliver Phommavanh has been charged for allegedly grooming a minor online
Oliver Phommavanh was arrested and charged with alleged child grooming on Friday (NSW Police)

Phommavanh was granted bail in Fairfield Local Court on Friday on a $5,000 surety, but must away from school, park and shopping centres, is banned from using the internet, must report daily to police, and must not use drugs or alcohol.

He will appear in Parramatta Local Court on July 9.

Born in Sydney to a Laotian father and a Thai mother, Phommavanh worked as a primary school teacher before turning to writing, and describes himself as a “fresh, positive voice for cultural diversity in children’s literature”.

He says that his books “carry a lot of heart and authentic characters living in a multicultural Australia” and writes on his website that his books are inspired by his own struggles to fit in as an Asian kid.

His social media accounts are full of photos of himself posing in schools and in classrooms while giving readings of his books.

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