Teachers accused of sexual assault in Indonesian school face 15 years' jail

Teachers accused of sexual assault in Indonesian school face 15 years' jail

After more than three months in detention, Jakarta International School (JIS) teachers Neil Bantleman and Ferdinant Tjiong stood trial Tuesday at the South Jakarta District Court on charges of sexually abusing children.

Canadian Bantleman, 45, and Ferdinant, 42, were tried independently due to their separate dossiers. Furthermore, the trials were held behind closed doors due to the victims' ages.

"The primary charge for the defendants is [violating] Article 82 of the Child Protection Law. The secondary charge is [for violating] Article 80 [of the same law]," prosecutor Ade Rohimah said after the lengthy trials were adjourned.

Both suspects face a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison if found guilty of sexually abusing minors under Article 82 of the Child Protection Law. In the secondary charge, they are accused of assault under Article 80 of the same law.

In the indictment obtained by The Jakarta Post, the prosecutors accused Bantleman - who works as a learning leader at the JIS Pondok Indah Elementary (PIE) campus in South Jakarta - of sexually abusing three male students on five separate occasions between January 2013 and March of this year.

Bantleman's indictment does not specify when the incidents occurred, but described the alleged abuse as having occurred in a kitchen and in a small second-floor room on the PIE campus. Bantleman also stands accused of beating and verbally threatening the victims.

Ferdinant, who works as a teacher's assistant on the same campus, was indicted for sexually abusing the same three students five times - incidents separate from those allegedly involving Bantleman - from January 2013 to March this year.

He also allegedly verbally abused the victims and told them to remain quiet. The indictment also said that psychologists Nurul Adiningtyas and Setyani Ambarwati had dismissed the possibility of the victims having imagined the incidents, citing credible testimony delivered between April and July.

Moreover, medical examination results from the Bhayangkara National Police Hospital showed that the anuses of two victims, DA and AL, were funnel-shaped and showed healing wounds matching the characteristics of anal rape. AL was also diagnosed with herpes.

Bantleman told reporters from his holding cell that the indictment made no sense.

"The details are so vague that I had to object because they asked if I could understand and I told them that I could not understand something so vague," he said.

Ferdinant echoed Bantleman's sentiments, saying the indictment was based on hearsay rather than evidence.

Hotman Paris Hutapea, one of the two attorneys representing Bantleman and Ferdinant, said the accusations were ridiculous, even more so because there were no dates specified for the alleged incidents.

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