A Hong Kong teacher has been charged over historical sexual assault allegations dating back three decades.
Charged formally on Tuesday, the accused, surnamed Mak — the discipline master at Sai Kung Sung Tsun Catholic School — was arrested on March 22 and faces eight counts of indecent assault, HK01 reported yesterday.
Emerging in the wake of the #Metoo movement, the accusations were reported to police in February by five ex-pupils of the school. The claims relate to incidents which allegedly occurred in the 1980s when the alleged victims — who are now in their 30s and 40s — were between 7 and 8 years old.
The women claimed Mak, 56, assaulted them in his office during class breaks, summoning them under the pretext of person tutorials.
While alone with the victims, the teacher touched their private parts inappropriately, it was alleged.
The women reportedly said the encounters left them traumatized and afraid to report the abuse at the time.
It wasn’t until last year, when a Hong Kong athlete shared on social media her own experience of alleged abuse, that they felt emboldened to come forward, it was reported.
The athlete — who shared the experience in the context of the #metoo movement — had her case heard last month. A judge ruled there was insufficient evidence for a conviction.
Mak was suspended by the school following the arrest. News of the accusations was met with shock by some former staff and students from the school, according to Apple Daily, which reported alumni recalled the accused as “friendly and funny.”
The school’s current principal Karina Chau Lai-hung, meanwhile, said it would be inappropriate to comment given the case was to go before the courts.
She added, however, that the school had not itself received complaints from students or parents regarding sexual misconduct at the school.
The #metoo movement has seen countless women have shared their experiences of sexual harassment and assault online along with the hashtag.
It began in the wake of a recent New York Times exposé last year detailing dozens of sexual harassment and assault complaints made against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, who used his power to bully aspiring actresses into sexual favors.