US teacher held for sex abuse in China
06 June 2013, 18:08
Beijing - An American teacher at an elite French school
in Shanghai has been arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting at least
seven children, school officials and parents told AFP on Thursday.
The news comes after a former instructor at the school,
also an American, was extradited to the US on similar charges, they said.
The kindergarten teacher was seized by Chinese police
last month after seven families filed formal accusations against him, alleging
sexual abuse and rape of students of both sexes, several parents told AFP.
"As parents we are devastated," said the mother
of one pupil, who requested anonymity to protect her child's privacy.
Management at the Lycee Francais de Shanghai told AFP:
"Families have lodged complaints with the Chinese police against a teacher
at the French school of Shanghai over assaults on their children.
"The investigation is being carried out by the
Chinese police and is ongoing. The teacher has been in administrative detention
since his arrest," the school added.
The mother told AFP that her child started behaving oddly
soon after they moved to the country.
"My daughter was having nervous breakdowns, she was
scratching herself on her face and thighs," she said.
"As we had just arrived in China I figured it was
exhaustion from moving countries, I didn't worry about it," she said,
adding that only later did she link the unusual behaviour to abuse.
The fee-paying school declined to provide precise details
of the accusations against the teacher, nor over what period they allegedly
took place. A notice addressed to families referred to "sexual assaults".
Another mother said she suspected her daughter had been
abused over a period of months, and that cases of abuse of other children went
back as far as five years.
"We are living a nightmare," she said.
The second teacher, a friend of the first, was "extradited
by Chinese authorities to the United States in December 2012 following an
investigation into sexual touching and violence against minors", the
school said in an email.
From 2005 until last year he worked alternately at the
French and German schools, which share a campus.
He left the French school in 2011 and its management said
his alleged actions took place during individual classes at a private home,
when he was no longer on its staff.
One parent expressed frustration, saying: "The
French school wants us to believe that there is absolutely no link between
these two incidents, except that the two people, while they were working
together, were friends."
The French school in Shanghai is a private institution
contracted with the Agency for French Teaching Abroad, a government body.
Its two campuses have 1 600 students, ranging in age from
three to 18.
Shanghai police declined to comment on the cases.
The US consulate in the city also declined to comment.