Jakarta International School. Neil Bantleman, his wife Tracy Bantleman, pictured here the day he was taken into police custody on July 14, 2014. Photo: Michael Bachelard
Two teachers from the prestigious Jakarta International School, who have spent 108 days without charge in police detention over child sex allegations, were told on Wednesday that they would face trial in an Indonesian court.
Canadian school administrator Neil Bantleman and Indonesian teachers’ aide Ferdinant Tjiong are likely to now be moved to the high security Cipinang detention centre in central Jakarta to await a trial over allegations of rape against three pre-school boys at the school.
The school and the men’s supporters had hoped the case would not move to this stage because they believe the evidence against them is thin and unconvincing.
However, on Wednesday, the head of Jakarta prosecutor’s office, Adi Toegarisman, said the dossier had been completed by police and handed up, so “now the suspects are the responsibility of the prosecutors’ office”.
The mother of one of the alleged victims said on hearing the news: “Good, good, good; of course I’m happy”.
“Based on the evidence, of course I will win. But I cannot say that because I’m not the judge,” the mother said.
But the school’s head, Timothy Carr, said the decision was a “profound disappointment as we are unaware of any viable evidence and we therefore believe these charges to be baseless”.
The school would “vigorously defend the innocence of these fine educators,” he said.
Mr Bantleman’s wife, Tracy, said she was “utterly shocked, frustrated, extremely angry”.
“We have a justice system that is exhibiting extreme carelessness with these two men … It’s an absolute disgrace to justice and human rights,” Mrs Bantleman said.
She said her husband had not been interviewed by police since he underwent a lie detector test on July 23, and no details of the allegations have ever been put to him.
She feared for the safety of her husband and Mr Ferdy in Cipinang prison, in which 2156 mainly Indonesian prisoners, from alleged murderers to drug addicts and gangsters, are held as they are tried.
The Canadian embassy has told Mrs Bantleman the men’s safety is its highest priority.
The school’s three founding embassies, including the Australian embassy, weighed in on July 14 when the men were first taken into custody to say they were “deeply concerned” at the detention of the teachers.
The evidence in the case includes four medical examinations of one of the boys and testimony of the alleged victims. Two of the medical reports found no abnormalities and the third, which included an anal examination, found some internal inflammation, pus and lesions, but did not identify a cause.
The fourth report was conducted at the police hospital and has not been released. The boy’s mother claims it backs the rape allegation.
Three of the same medical reports have also been used in the case of five contract cleaners currently on trial for allegedly raping the same boy. However, after initially confessing, the cleaners have now recanted and are denying any wrongdoing, saying they confessed under police torture. Another cleaner died during questioning, which police explained as a suicide.
The other evidence — the boys’ testimony — includes allegations from one that he was raped multiple times during the school day in an open, heavily populated administration block with glass walls which teachers call “the aquarium”.
Among his allegations are that there was a secret underground dungeon somewhere at the school, and that Mr Bantleman, who was known as “the boss” clicked his fingers during one attack and reached up to pluck a “magic stone” out of the sky to insert in the boy’s rectum to anaesthetise him before the rape.
Other allegations include a female principal videotaping the attack and supplying a light blue drink to drug the boy.
The boys had never been taught by the teachers, and had identified them by pointing out their photographs in the school yearbook.
The family of the first alleged victim has filed a $US125 million lawsuit against the school, one of the most highly regarded in Asia.
Disclosure: The author has two children attending the Jakarta International School.