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Are Young Students Safe from Sexual Predators in Thailand’s Schools?




KORAT – A 51-year-old former director of Patong Thanoen Samakkhi School in Nakhon Ratchasima’s Bua Yai district, deemed to have breached a serious disciplinary code by having an inappropriate intimate relationship with a 14-year-old pupil, was given 30 days to appeal against the provincial authority’s decision to dismiss him without any pension and welfare benefits.

As the dismissal procedure was now in motion, Nathapop Boonthongtho could appeal against the provincial education committee’s dismissal order with the Education Ministry’s Teacher Civil Service and Educational Personnel Commission, said provincial head Kritapol Chutikulkirati.

This disciplinary procedure was separated from the ongoing trial for criminal offences in the case at the Bua Yai provincial court, he added.

The school committee and teachers in early January brought the allegations to the media’s attention by distributing Line chat messages from the Mathayom girl’s phone in which Nathapop appears to address her as “darling” and “dear wife’’.

This led to Nathapop’s transfer out of the school pending investigations over his alleged three-month relationship with the girl, which reportedly started shortly after he took the position of school director.

The scandal was also probed by police who then brought three criminal charges including statutory rape of an under 15-year-old.

There is also a charge of libel linked to his dispute with a woman who reportedly told the school about the alleged scandal. Nathapop has denied the charges and vowed to fight them in court.

Meanwhile, Police have issued summons to a physical education teacher at a well-known school in Bangkok’s Klong Toei district to report next week for questioning following accusations that he allegedly sexually assaulted a 15-year-old schoolgirl.

Metropolitan Police Division 5 chief Pol Maj-General Mongkol Warunno said on Friday the girl’s parents had earlier this week filed a police complaint against the teacher. He faces four charges: of taking a minor away from her parents for a lewd act, raping the girl, molesting, and assaulting her.

Klong Toei district office director Atcharawadee Chaisuwirat said the teacher had been transferred to work at the district office pending an investigation. She said officials were keeping a close watch over him, as they feared he might commit suicide due to stress caused by the accusation. She assured that there would be no attempt to hush up the case.

On Thursday, Ronnasit Proeksayajiva, chief investigator at Nvader, a non-profit organisation combating human trafficking, accompanied the victim and her parents to lodge a formal complaint and submit the girl’s medical examination result, confirming rape, at the Tha Rua Police Station.

Ronnasit told reporters that the girl’s parents were temporary workers at the school hence the family, including the girl, stayed in the school compound. Ronnasit claimed that prior to being raped, the girl had been molested before by this teacher when she was 12 years old and studying in Prathom 6 there. On That occasion, the teacher allegedly lured her into a classroom on the pretext of cleaning it. The teacher allegedly pushed the girl down and tried to undress her but she kicked him and ran away. The girl informed her mother about the sexual attack but the family was afraid of the impact on their work.

It was later found that this teacher had also molested 15 other schoolgirls (by hugging, kissing and grabbing their breasts) and their parents had stepped forward to complain, resulting in a fact-finding probe. The probe found him guilty of violating the disciplinary code but led to a light punishment for him – of not being considered for a salary raise for two years – but he continued teaching at the school, said Ronnasit. After that the alleged victim changed her school but stayed with her family in the previous school premises.

A letter came in mid-May asking the girl to testify at the Khlong Toei District Office against the teacher, who offered a meal to the girl and 15 other accusers on the night of June 2 to settle the matter with them. None of the other girls showed up so the teacher asked the alleged victim to accompany him to talk. He took her to a karaoke bar where he invited her to drink beer along with him. He reportedly asked the girl to testify in his favour against the molestation accusation but she refused.

He brought the girl back to the school ground and asked to talk with her in a third-floor classroom. While in the classroom, he forced himself on her and allegedly raped her after which he gave her cash to go out and buy food for him. The girl fled the scene. Police could not file the rape charge pending a medical examination. The teacher was, however, charged at the time for being drunk and creating a disturbance. The medical result, confirming the rape, came out in early July.

By Khanathit Srihirundaj
The Nation

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