07/15/2015 11:48 EDT | Updated 07/16/2016 05:59 EDT

Neil Bantelman Rally Held For Calgary Teacher Sentenced To Indonesian Jail


CALGARY - A rally has been held in front of Calgary's city hall to protest the conviction of a former Calgary teacher who was found guilty of sexually abusing students at an international school in Indonesia.

More than 100 former colleagues and friends of Neil Bantleman, 46, of Burlington, Ont., were there Wednesday, calling on the federal government for help.

Bantleman and a teaching assistant were both working at the elite Jakarta Intercultural School when they were arrested last July following reports from parents of a six-year-old boy who claimed to have been sodomized.

Bantleman and Ferdinant Tjiong were charged with sexually abusing three children at the school, underwent a trial that saw conflicting evidence and were eventually convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Both men maintained their innocence and frequently voiced criticisms about the fairness and transparency of the trial.

During it, medical reports from three different hospitals in Jakarta and Singapore showed no major injuries or abnormalities in the three children at the centre of the case.

“I know that Neil’s biggest fear is that we’re going to forget about him,” said rally participant Jennifer Leong, who taught with Bantleman when he worked in Calgary.

“I want him to know that not a minute goes by when I am not thinking about him. We talk about him every single day.”

Calgary philanthropist Brett Wilson, whose son was taught by Bantleman in Calgary, spoke at the rally.

Wilson said he’s been reaching out to Indonesian business leaders in hopes of making a difference as well.

An appeal has been filed in the case.

Bantleman has pleaded for Ottawa to review his case and speak up on his behalf, but he has said he's received more vocal shows of support from the United States government than from Canadian officials.

(CFFR, The Canadian Press)