Two university lecturers in Palembang, South Sumatra have gripped national headlines over allegations of sexual misconduct.
One of them, a 34-year-old man identified by his initials ARA, was charged early this week and has already confessed to masturbating in front of a student and touching her inappropriately at the Sriwijaya University, or Unsri. The incident took place in September.
“The suspect was the victim’s supervisor lecturer, who committed obscene acts while providing assistance and giving his signature for the thesis at a lab located within Unsri’s Indralaya campus,” Hisar Siallagan, who heads South Sumatra Police’s Directorate of General Crime, said.
ARA’s attorney Darmawan claimed that the incident was the only time his client had ever committed such a crime. ARA has been charged with multiple articles under Indonesia’s Criminal Code on sexual harassment, which carries a maximum sentence of nine years in prison.
ARA also faces multiple sanctions from Unsri, including being removed from his role as a department head at the university.
The other lecturer, identified by his initials RG, had allegedly sent lewd text messages to at least three students who have since reported him to the police. At least seven other accusers are planning to file police complaints, according to Yan Iskandar, who heads Unsri’s Coalition Team for the Elimination of Sexual Violence and alumni association.
“There are seven more people from Unsri students and alumni who will file a police report against lecturer R for sexual harassment like those that have been reported by the previous three students,” Yan said yesterday.
According to Yan, sexual harassment allegations against RG go as far back as 2014. RG has been temporarily suspended from his position as the head of study programs at Unsri’s Faculty of Economy. He has refuted all allegations against him, claiming that he was being slandered and that the phone number linked to the incriminating messages did not belong to him. He also said that he will sue those who have spread his photos on social media.
Unsri, through one of its deputy chancellors Zainuddin Nawawi, said that the university will not intervene with the two lecturers’ cases and is entrusting them with the authorities.