A Canadian teacher in Indonesia and his assistant were acquitted Friday of charges related to sexual abuse of students at an international school in the Indonesian capital Jakarta. The Jakarta High Court overturned the ruling of the lower court that had sentenced the two to 10 years each.
In April, the South Jakarta District Court convicted Canadian Neil Bantleman and his Indonesian assistant Ferdinant Tjiong for sexually abusing three kindergarten boys between 2013 and 2014. The duo -- who also had the support of teachers at the Jakarta Intercultural School, formally known as Jakarta International School -- appealed the high court in May.
"The truth is finally revealed and justice has been done," Hotman Paris Hutapea, an Indonesian lawyer representing Bantleman and Tjiong, told the Associated Press (AP) Friday.
Hutapea added that money was the motive behind the allegations -- a theory also backed by the school’s principal and other teachers. The mother of one of the three students who were allegedly abused had filed a $125 million lawsuit against the school, which was reportedly dismissed by the district court Monday.
The latest verdict comes nearly a month after a court in Singapore settled a defamation suit filed by Bantleman's family against the mother of another alleged victim. The court reportedly ordered her to pay $164,700 in damages. The case was brought in Singapore because the preliminary allegations were made in Singapore through emails, texts and other digital communications, the AP reported.
According to Bantleman’s brother Guy, Bantleman will be freed within 12 hours, CBC, a news network in Canada, reported.
The arrest of Bantleman and Tjiong last July came after six janitors at the school allegedly sexually abused students. Four male janitors were handed down eight years in prison and a woman was sentenced to seven years for acting as an accomplice. According to police, a sixth suspect committed suicide in custody by consuming bathroom cleaner, the AP reported.