'Stop violence against children.' (Antara Foto/R. Rekotomo)

Police Summon HighScope Management in Sexual Abuse Allegation

APRIL 06, 2015

'Stop violence against children.' (Antara Foto/R. Rekotomo)

[Updated at 10:12 p.m. on Monday, April 6, 2015, to add details, quotes and background]

Jakarta. Police are calling in the management of HighScope Indonesia for questioning, after the mother of a student at the school claimed her child had been sexually abused.

"We have sent the summons to dig up all information regarding the case," Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Martinus Sitompul said on Monday. "We have also asked for CCTV tapes from a week before and after [the alleged abuse took place] so we can find out more about the situation in the school."

The case started when the mother of a 7-year-old student at the school filed a police report on March 20. She asserted a staff member at the T.B. Simatupang campus in Cilandak, South Jakarta, had sexually abused her child. The campus in Cilandak is one of six HighScope schools across Jakarta.

The mother claimed to have consulted the Indonesian Commission for Child Protection (KPAI) before going to the police. KPAI chair Asrorun Ni'am Sholeh concurred, saying the victim's family had purportedly found marks on the child's body that suggested sexual assault.

Martinus said police were still determining who the suspected perpetrator could be.

"A name has indeed been mentioned but the testimonies kept on changing," Martinus explained. "We need to dig deeper."

Investigators have received a statement from both the alleged victim and the child’s mother, but the police declined to reveal any details.

“We cannot arrest the accused based only on their statements. We must first gather more evidence before we can make our next move,” Martinus said. “This case will take time.”

Should they gather sufficient evidence against the accused, the suspect will be charged with violating the 2003 Child Protection Law. A guilty verdict carries a maximum jail sentence of 15 years and a fine of Rp 300 million ($22,925).

Previously, a HighScope representative said the school has already conducted an internal investigation.

“We are supporting the legal process by prioritizing the child’s interest and privacy. We will share information with people and are open to suggestions from experts such as psychologists and the KPAI,” the school said in a press release issued on Saturday.

School officials began questioning teachers and staff members on March 18 and invited the child’s parents to search through the campus’s CCTV footage.

They found no indications of sexual abuse, the statement added.

Asrorun dismissed the press release, arguing that alleged marks found on the child’s body by the parents suggested assault took place.

“The child does have several injuries on their body, and has been complaining of pain. The child also displayed a traumatic reaction during a tour of the [alleged] crime scene,” said the KPAI chief.

“Though it is crucial to discover the truth and convict the perpetrator, it is far more important to ensure the child’s physical and psychological wellbeing,” Asrorun emphasized.

The HighScope case is one of several sexual abuse cases to hit elite schools in Jakarta. Last week, the South Jakarta District Court handed Neil Bantleman, a Canadian national, and Indonesian citizen Ferdinand Tjiong 10-year prison terms for sexually abusing three boys at the Jakarta Intercultural School, previously known as the Jakarta International School.

The verdicts have incited controversy since, with US Ambassador Robert O. Blake, Jr., saying he was “deeply disappointed” in the conviction of two teachers for child sexual abuse despite “serious questions [...] regarding the investigative process and lack of credible evidence against the teachers.”

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