School staff accused of ‘gang-rape’

Written By komlim puldel on Senin, 27 Oktober 2014 | 20.01

JIS is one of Asia's top schools, and has a large body of Australian students. Source: Supplied

A PRESTIGIOUS international school in Indonesia has been confronted by accusations of staff raping children as young as five.

Parents have made allegations of gang rape, sexual abuse being video-taped and institutional cover-ups at Jakarta International School.

The saga began in March, when the parents of a five-year-old boy alleged that he had been anally raped by cleaners in the school toilets.

The families of three children have accused teaching staff at JIS of rape. Source: Supplied

They said they noticed something was wrong when the child became aggressive, began wetting himself at school and started having nightmares in which he screamed, "Please don't hurt me, please let me go", The Independent reported.

His mother discovered bruises on his stomach and anus, she said, and the boy then told his parents what had allegedly happened. A medical exam was said to have revealed anal infections, pus and lesions.

Six members of staff from cleaning contractors ISS were arrested, but the boy's mother went public with the details after being disappointed with the slowness of the school's response, her lawyer Andi Asrun told Fairfax media.

Four of the five men admitted to the crime, but later retracted their statements, saying they were obtained under torture, The Independent said. The fifth man died in custody — apparently committing suicide by drinking bleach. The last person arrested was a woman.

School cleaner Agun Iskandar went on trial for the alleged sexual abuse in August. Source: News Corp Australia

A second mother came forward a few weeks later and said her son had also been attacked by cleaners, but had fought them off.

At the time, the school said little in public, and calls for its closure grew louder, alongside graffiti sprayed on the gates, harassment of students as they left and attacks on the school's lax dress code.

The first set of parents launched a $14 million lawsuit, not long before further scandal broke in late April, when it emerged that US paedophile William Vahey had worked at the school from 1992 to 2002.

The second mother later told Fairfax media that her son's abusers were school administrator Neil Bantleman and Indonesian teacher's assistant Ferdinand Tjiong, in conjunction with the cleaners. They deny the allegations.

A letter from the accused teaching staff on a petition calling for their release. Source: Supplied

The mother said her son was taken to school offices, and given drugs either intravenously or in a "light blue potion" before being sexually assaulted, often on video. No video footage has been found.

She said he was threatened with death if he told anyone about the rapes, which allegedly numbered more than 20.

At this point a third alleged victim emerged, a friend of the first two children.

In late May, the first parents increased their claim against the school tenfold to $142 million, saying their son would require care for the rest of his life. The second mother sent emails identifying the alleged perpetrators to 12 sets of parents with pre-school children, saying her son had identified them as victims.

The families of three children say they were attacked by teaching staff. Source: ThinkStock

By June 11, all three parents were saying that teaching staff were involved.

Police transcripts leaked to the Wall Street Journal revealed claims by the alleged first victim of secret rooms in the school and a "magic stone" used to anaesthetise the children.

The documents identified eight other boys who were allegedly abused this year at the school.

Bantleman and Tjiong were arrested on July 14, but the school's founding embassies weighed in publicly, issuing a statement saying they were "deeply concerned" about the teachers' detention and that: "We are surprised at these developments given the presumption of innocence in Indonesian law."

The school said it was co-operating fully with police, but also expressed doubts about the claims against its staff, suggesting the ideas may have been planted in the children's heads.

There are suggestions that the children involved may have fallen victim to the power of suggestion in questioning. Source: Supplied

Headteacher Timothy Carr told the Wall Street Journal: "How credible were those original allegations when they were delivered by someone who has changed their story so dramatically over time?"

The teaching staff involved are suing the parents for defamation, with Bantleman's wife Tracey insisting there is no evidence and Tjiong's wife saying her husband is "ashamed" of the Indonesian justice system.

But the first and second mothers accused the school of a cover-up, and lawyer Mr Asrun said the school had "tarnished its image".

JIS educates more than 2000 children of well-off expats and Indonesians, including many Australians, and is one of Asia's top schools.

It is now holding weekly vigils, attended by some parents, in support of the staff members, and a petition to release them has gained more than 10,000 signatures.

But one mother said she had withdrawn her child from the school because "everyone was constantly talking about his case. It was just too heavy for me."

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