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Canada Slams Indonesia for Convicting Teachers of Sex Assault Again

Serious questions have been raised about the veracity of the allegations against Canadian Neil Bantleman, a teacher at a private school in Jakarta, and Indonesian teaching assistant Ferdi Tijong.
Neil Bantleman, right, and Ferdinant Tjiong (Photo by Tatan Syuflana/AP)

Canada's foreign affairs minister is slamming a decision by Indonesia's Supreme Court to overturn the acquittals of a Canadian teacher and an Indonesian teaching assistant who had been charged with sexually abusing students at an exclusive private school in Jakarta.

In doing so, the court also extended the sentence of Neil Bantleman, from Burlington, Ontario, and Ferdi Tijong, by a year, to a total of 11 years.


They were also fined the equivalent of $7,440 CDN.

"This decision is unjust, given the many grave irregularities throughout the various proceedings in this case and the fact that all evidence presented by the defense has systematically been rejected," Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion said in a statement.

"The outcome of this case has serious implications for Indonesia's reputation as a safe place for Canadians to work, travel and invest as well as for Canada's long history of cooperation with Indonesia," Dion said.

It's the latest turn in a long legal saga for the two men, who were were entangled in a high profile case in Indonesia in which six janitors at the Jakarta International School were accused of abuse. The case generated widespread attention in Indonesia, with one of the mothers publicly denouncing allegations of assault and claiming her child had contracted herpes. Five janitors were found guilty, and a sixth committed suicide in jail, CBC reported.

In April, Bantleman and Tijong were themselves convicted of abusing three kindergarten students at the school.

But critics raised serious questions about the veracity of the allegations, and those convictions were ultimately overturned in August.

Related: Canadian Teacher Acquitted of Sex Assault by Indonesian Court and Freed

One of the allegations against Bantleman, 46, was that he was able to subdue one of the boys using a magical stone he pulled out of the air, the Toronto Star reported. CBC reported that new medical evidence showed the three alleged victims had no major injuries and an investigation by the fifth estate, the CBC's flagship investigative program, found the allegation that one of the children contracted herpes from the alleged assault was not supported by independent testing in Europe.


Bantleman, who has been supported by his wife, other family members and the school, described his ordeal in an interview with the fifth estate.

"This is the worst allegation that you can go to prison with," he said. "So, yeah, we were terrified."

The lawyer for both men, Hotman Paris Hutapea, has alleged the parents of the children were making the rape claims up so they could sue the school for negligence, CBC reported. The parents wanted $125 million from the school, but that civil suit was thrown out last year.

Tjiong was taken back into custody and Bantleman surrendered to police, his brother told the CBC.

Dion complained on Thursday that Bantleman and Tijong were not given the chance to demonstrate their innocence.

"Canada will continue to raise the case of Mr. Bantleman at the highest levels," said Dion.

Reuters contributed to this report.