NEWS

Indonesian court finds janitors guilty in rape case related to Neil Bantleman

12/22/2014 12:06 EST | Updated 02/21/2015 05:59 EST
An Indonesian court has sentenced five janitors who worked at the same school as Canadian Neil Bantleman up to eight years in prison for the rape of a kindergartner.

The Burlington, Ont., man is also facing sex assault allegations from students at the Jakarta International School in Indonesia where he worked with the cleaners.

The janitors, four men and one woman, were given sentences of up to eight years in prison after being found guilty of sexual assault on Monday.

The only woman involved the case received seven years for being an accomplice.

All the defendants were also fined $8,000 respectively or serve three more months in jail.

The janitors were arrested in April following a complaint from the parents of a six-year-old boy who alleged the child had been sodomized. A sixth suspect died in custody, after drinking bathroom cleanser, police said.

In a separate but related case, Bantleman and Indonesian teaching assistant Ferdinant Tjiong also went on trial earlier this month. They are accused of sexually abusing the same boy and two other students. 

They are both expected to appear in court on Tuesday. 

"Obviously, we are devastated by the guilty convictions and the prison terms and fines," said Guy Bantleman, Neil's brother.

- How lawyers plan to defend teacher facing child sex charges 

Lawyers for the janitors argued in court that the evidence was weak, noting medical reports found the boy had no major injuries or abnormalities.

Prosecutors said the boy had been sodomized up to 13 times.

"The verdicts were unfair," said Patra M. Zen, one of the lawyers, who is also representing Bantleman and Tijong. "We will appeal, and hopefully we will get justice from the higher courts."

Outside the court, he told a reporter from Australia's The Age newspaper, "There was no hard evidence of rape, and the doctor had only said the medical evidence doesn't rule out the possibility that what the child said is true.

"So the judgment is based on a possibility only. Justice is not served," Patra told The Age

John Kevin Baird, a doctor called as an expert witness by the defence, told the Jakarta Globe newspaper on the weekend that spotty evidence of the alleged rape should raise "serious doubts" about the validity of the allegations.

"My view, based on the clinical laboratory findings, is that the defendants are almost certainly falsely accused," Baird told the Globe.

The Jakarta International School is attended by children of foreign diplomats, expatriates and Indonesia's elite. It has 2,400 students aged three to 18 from about 60 countries.

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