Indonesia sentences teachers for sexual abuse

By Niniek Karmini ,AP

JAKARTA, Indonesia — An Indonesian court has sentenced a Canadian teacher and an Indonesian teaching assistant to 10 years in jail on charges of sexually abusing three young children at a prestigious international school in Jakarta.

The South Jakarta District Court convicted Neil Bantleman and Ferdinant Tjiong on Thursday of violating Indonesia’s Child Protection Law and Criminal Code.

Bantleman, who was arrested last July, pleaded innocent to the charges that he sexually abused three kindergartners at the Jakarta Intercultural School. He said he would appeal the verdict.

“Today is completely a miscarriage of justice,” Bantleman said. “I’ll keep fighting.”

The three-judge panel also ordered Bantleman, 45, to pay a fine of approximately $7,700 or serve six more months in jail.

“The defendant has deliberately committed violence and obscene acts,” the judges said in their verdict.

The parents of one of the children have sued the school for alleged negligence and are seeking US$125 million in compensation.

The principal and a number of other teachers have said they believe Bantleman is innocent.

Tjiong, who was tried separately, was given the same prison term and fine.

The school is attended by children of foreign diplomats, expatiates and Indonesia’s elite. It has 2,400 students aged 3 to 18 from about 60 countries.

In December, four male janitors at the school were sentenced to eight years in prison in the same case and a female janitor received seven years as an accomplice. A sixth suspect in that group allegedly committed suicide while in police custody.

The school was also shaken last year in an unrelated case over news that William Vahey, an American who taught there from 1992 to 2002, had killed himself as the FBI was investigating evidence that he may have sexually abused scores of teenage boys during a 40-year career at 10 international schools across four continents.