Mother of alleged JIS child abuse victim sues teachers and 5 janitors IDR1.7 trillion in new civil lawsuit

Entrance to the Jakarta Intercultural School.
Entrance to the Jakarta Intercultural School.

The alleged child sexual abuse case at the Jakarta Intercultural School (JIS, formerly Jakarta International School) has entered a new chapter after the mother of one of the three alleged victims filed a civil lawsuit against two teachers and five school janitors — all of whom have been convicted of sexually abuse and sentenced to prison — for IDR1.7 trillion (~US$120 million).

Yesterday, one of the alleged victims’ mothers, identified by her initials MAK, filed a civil lawsuit in the South Jakarta District Court demanding payment of IDR1.7 trillion in damages from the teachers, janitors, as well as the Ministry of Education and Culture. This new lawsuit comes after she tried to sue the school IDR1.6 trillion (then US$125 million) in 2014 but had the claim dismissed by the court.

“Back then she failed with the criminal lawsuit, now she’s suing again with a civil [lawsuit]. Don’t think this matter is over because the janitors are in prison. The criminal case is still open and we have strong evidence that will reveal the truth. We will reveal them when the time is right,” Richard Riwoe, legal representative of the five cleaners, said in an official statement yesterday, as quoted by iNews.

Agun, one of the janitors who was sentenced to eight years in prison but is now out on parole due to good behavior after serving out half of his sentence, says he could not fathom why MAK would file another lawsuit even after he and his colleagues were unjustly punished.

“When I was in prison, my wife was pregnant. When my child was born he wasn’t with his father for years. And now, this family, who’s affluent and lives abroad, is suing us again. It’s like it’s not enough for them to see us suffer,” he said.

JIS, through the school’s lawyer, refrained from commenting on the lawsuit for now, other than to say it’s “incorrect” under the law.

The other four school janitors besides Agun are still incarcerated after being convicted of child sexual abuse. One more janitor was accused of the same crime, but he died under suspicious circumstances during police custody in 2014, fueling suspicions that confessions given by the other cleaners were made after they had been tortured by the police.

Two teachers, Ferdinand Tjiong and Canadian Neil Bantleman, were first sentenced to 10 years in prison by the South Jakarta District Court before the sentence was overturned by the Jakarta High Court. However, in 2016, the Supreme Court overturned the acquittal and re-sentenced both to 11 years in prison.

The JIS sex abuse case is widely believed to have been rife with serious evidentiary and procedural problems, ranging from doctors testifying that there were no signs of sexual abuse on one of the supposed victims to allegations that the whole case was engineered to help MAK win her $125 million lawsuit against the school.

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