At the beginning of the year, several janitors working in Jakarta International School were arrested for the alleged rape of a kindergarten boy. It was also alleged that at least two other boys had been attacked.
But what started out as a heartbreaking tragedy soon grew into an increasingly heated legal battle, as the family of the first victim filed a $12 million lawsuit against the school. When the school refused to pay, they increased the amount demanded to $125 million.
What followed shocked the close-knit community at JIS. In July, police detained two JIS teachers, Neil Bantleman and his teaching assistant Ferdinand Djiong. Despite the absence of formal charges and any solid evidence, the two teachers have been held in custody for over two months now.
“[These] are baseless allegations that right from the beginning had no merit and no substance, and I can’t believe it has gotten to this point,” Mr. Bantleman told The Wall Street Journal.
Demonstrations and vigils in support of the two teachers have taken place at International Schools around the world, in North American, Asia and Europe.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Timothy Carr, head of JIS, compared the current investigation to a case which occurred in the 1980s, “where one parent’s abuse allegation triggered a flood of charges, including claims of satanic rituals and allegations that 360 children were victimized. No one was convicted, and police and counselors were later criticized for eliciting false testimony from children by asking leading and suggestive questions.”
The members of Bantleman’s family, however, are far from giving up. Tracy Bantleman, Bantleman’s wife, has “personally asked the president of the country and the police to co-operate together to be as objective as possible”. She has also enlisted Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird to help win Bantleman’s release and believes Baird is “working at the highest levels” to raise this case with Indonesian authorities.