Neil Bantleman, Canadian teacher, found guilty, sentenced to 10 years on Jakarta child sex charges

Canadian teacher Neil Bantleman has been found guilty by an Indonesian court of intentionally committing acts of assault and child sexual abuse, and reportedly will serve 10 years in prison.

Brother Guy Bantleman tells CBC the trial was a 'stunning display of incompetence'

'We believe in each other'

8 years ago
Duration 4:10
Tracy Bantleman on husband Neil being found guilty of sexually abusing children in Jakarta

Canadian teacher Neil Bantleman has been found guilty by an Indonesian court of intentionally committing acts of assault and child sexual abuse, and it has been reported he has been sentenced to 10 years in prison. 

A panel of three judges rejected "a sizable amount of expert testimonies" in favour of Bantleman, freelance reporter Jack Hewson told CBC News.

There was also an audible gasp when the length of the sentence was handed out in court, Hewson said.

One member of the judging panel said Bantleman did not admit or express regret for sexual abuse, and gave misleading information, Jewel Topsfield, the Indonesia correspondent for the Australian newspapers the Age and the Sydney Morning Herald, tweeted Thursday from the court in the capital of Jakarta.

Bantleman was asked if he accepted the verdict and said no, according to the family. He now has a 14-day window to appeal. 

A Burlington, Ont., native who also taught in Calgary, Bantleman has been in custody in Jakarta since July 2014.

Bantleman and Indonesian teaching assistant Ferdinand Tjiong were brought in for police questioning in the alleged sexual assault of three young boys at the Jakarta International School (JIS).

Janitors found guilty

In a separate but related case, five janitors who worked at JIS were found guilty last December of sexual assault. A sixth janitor died in custody, after drinking bathroom cleanser, police reported. 

The janitors were arrested in April 2014 following a complaint from the parents of a six-year-old boy who alleged the child had been raped. 

Bantleman and his colleague Tjiong were accused of sexually abusing the same boy and two other students. 

The JIS has about 2,400 students aged three to 18. Many of them are children of diplomats and other foreigners living in the country. 

Hewson told CBC News that many supporters of Bantleman from JIS were in court for the decision. 

"There has been a sea of white shirts from Jakarta International School. Parents and teachers who are here, dressed in white, to show their support," Hewson said. 

Bantleman's wife, Tracy, appeared somewhat tearful as the verdict was read out, Hewson added. 

Family slams trial

Guy Bantleman told CBC News that the family had a feeling his brother would be found guilty, but they are still stunned to hear the verdict. 

"You prepare yourself, but there's only so much you can do," he said.

Guy Bantleman also said he didn't expect the trial to be so one-sided, adding that the court rejected testimonies by witnesses and medical test results. 

"What's even more disturbing is the way that the court treated the whole defence case today and basically admonished the whole defence team," he said.

He said the trial was a "stunning display of incompetence," and that no credence was given to his brother's defence argument.

The court heard contradictory medical reports of one of the children from hospitals in Singapore and Indonesia, the family said in a statement.

The results from a Singapore hospital said there was no indication the child was a victim of sodomy. The judges instead used results from an Indonesian hospital, which contradicted the results from Singapore, the family said, quoting Hotman Paris Hutapea, a member of the legal defence team for Bantleman and Tjiong.

During the trial, the child also described the brand and colour of the condom used during the alleged rape, the family said.

"This answer is clearly a sentence that does not come from a five-year-old child, but is suspected to be a provided answer from the investigators," the family said, adding that it is impossible for the child to recognize the details during the alleged rape. 

​"It's an absolute outrage that, in this day and age, that critical facts can be ignored," Tracy Bantleman said in an interview with CBC News, her voice breaking. 

One of the judges had sought a longer sentence of 15 years.

In addition to the 10-year sentence, Bantleman was sentenced to pay a fine of 100 million rupiah, about $9,700 Cdn, or a substitution of six months in jail, the family said.