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Neil Bantleman Faces 30 More Days In Indonesian Jail In Child Sex Assault Probe

10/13/2014 12:59 EDT | Updated 12/13/2014 05:59 EST
Free Neil Bantleman & Ferdi Tjiong/Facebook
A Burlington, Ont., man who has been detained in Indonesia for three months in connection with a child sexual assault investigation is facing another 30 days behind bars, according to his family.

Neil Bantleman, a learning co-ordinator at the Jakarta International School, was arrested in connection with allegations that several kindergarten students at the school were sexually assaulted. 

The 45-year-old teacher, who also spent time teaching in Calgary, has been held in a Jakarta jail since July 14 but hasn't been charged with any crime.

His family insists there is no evidence to suggest Bantleman was involved in the assaults.

On Sunday, the family learned through court documents that Bantleman's detention is being extended for another 30 days.

The documents, provided by local police to the family through Bantleman's lawyer, did not give a detailed explanation of the reason for the extension, his brother, Guy, said. 

"[The documents] are fairly generic," he said in an interview with CBC News on Monday. "They basically indicate that the investigation surrounding Neil continues, and they need additional time to gather evidence."

Since his arrest in July, Bantleman's detention has been extended multiple times. The first time was in August, when it was extended for 40 days, and again for 30 days in September. The latest extension means Bantleman could be behind bars for a total of 120 days, the maximum time allowed under Indonesian law before charges must be laid.

$125M US lawsuit 

Bantleman's arrest stems from an investigation by Jakarta police into sexual assault at the school earlier in 2014. The Jakarta Post newspaper reported that six janitors were arrested for allegedly raping a young boy in a school bathroom in March.

Later, the parents of two other students filed police reports claiming their sons were sexually assaulted by teachers. The newspaper also reported that one complainant, whose family is suing the school for $125 million US, implicated teachers at the school.

In July, Bantleman and Ferdinand Tjiong, an Indonesian teaching assistant, were detained and questioned by police for nine hours. They were never released

Bantleman's passport is being held by police, and his home and office have been searched by investigators.

The trials for five of the six janitors — five men and one woman — have already begun. One of the janitors reportedly committed suicide before his trial, according to Guy.

Guy said his brother's case is complicated by the trials of the janitors, which are “falling apart” because some of the witnesses have changed their accounts of what happened.

"I think the police are watching [the janitors' trials] as carefully as possible and trying to see how that’s going to proceed,” he said. “The longer they can hold Neil, the better chance they have of making sure that whatever decision is made there, can almost be inferred onto Neil's case a little bit."

International coverage

The high-profile nature of the case — which involves a school attended by children of diplomats and affluent Indonesians — also doesn't help Bantleman, his brother said.

"It's got stories of child molestation. It's got all those salacious details that make it a worldwide case," he said.

"We need to let [the police] elegantly back out of the corner they put themselves in. They don't want to be seen to be incompetent."

Guy Bantleman said that although the family is hoping his brother will be released after the 120-day period is up, there is a chance that he could be charged with a crime at the end of his detention. If his brother's case moves on to the trial phase, the family is planning to travel to Indonesia to support him.

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