Dance teacher may face 8 years in prison

Dance teacher may face 8 years in prison
PHOTO: The Straits Times

A prosecutor on Wednesday demanded that a dance teacher at St. Monica's early childhood education school in Sunter, North Jakarta, be sentenced to eight years in prison and be fined Rp 100 million (S$10,100) or an extra six months in prison for allegedly sexually abusing a male toddler at the school.

The defendant, identified as Hariyanti, was charged with violating Article 82 of the 2002 Child Protection Law on sexual abuse that carries a maximum punishment of 15 years' imprisonment.

Prosecutor Theodora Marpaung insisted that the 2002 Child Protection Law be applied to the case, although the revised Law No 35/2014 took effect on Oct. 17, 2014, contradicting the defendant's lawyers who said that the sentence demand must be in accordance with the latest law.

"The misdeeds were committed on April 29, 2014. That's why we decided to use the 2002 law. Moreover, the Indonesian legal system doesn't recognise the retroactive principle, except for terrorism and crimes against humanity," said Theodora after the trial at the North Jakarta District Court.

In May 2014, a mother of the three-and-a-half-year-old male student filed a report with the North Jakarta Police, claiming that her son had been molested by his school's dance teacher. She said she first learned about the molestation after her son complained about pain in his anus and refused to go to school.

After almost a year of investigation, the police detained the teacher on Feb. 2. Theodora went on to say that her office has gathered evidence showing the defendant had committed the abuse, including a medical report from the Cipto Mangunkusumo General Hospital in Central Jakarta, which stated that the child's anus was bruised.

"We also have a polygraph expert who said that the result of Hariyanti's test indicated that she told lies," she said.

Hariyanti's lawyer, Petrus Bala Pattyona, said on Wednesday that the case was fabricated because no valid evidence was presented in the court.

"The CCTV footage presented in the hearing didn't record events on April 29, medical photograph of the child's anus was broken and the polygraph test result didn't mention the tested person's identity. How can we be sure that the test was taken by the defendant?" he said.

He went on to say that the prosecutor's decision to use the old law showed her carelessness.

"The 2002 law isn't in force any longer. Thus, our client cannot be punished if the law doesn't exist," he said.

Petrus ensured that he would address the issues in his client's defence statement, which was scheduled to be heard on July 1.

Punishment for sex abusers is heavier under the 2014 Law. Article 82 of the law stipulates that anyone who molests a child faces a minimum of five years and a maximum of 15 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of Rp 5 billion.

Paragraph 2 of the article stipulates that if the crime is committed by a teacher, the teacher's sentence will be increased by one-third of the original verdict.

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