Neil Bantleman sex assault trial: Another child testifies in Indonesia
Bantleman, a Burlington, Ont. native taught in Calgary for 10 years
An alleged child victim testified in a marathon court session in today in Jakarta, a continuation of the sex assault trial of a Canadian who taught at an international school in Indonesia.
Burlington, Ont., teacher Neil Bantleman’s trial lasted for more than eight hours Tuesday, his family said in an email to CBC News.
According to the family, the child — who is referred to as MAK — gave three hours of testimony via teleconference, alongside his father.
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Bantleman’s family says the child, the latest to testify, was having difficulty retelling events as documented in the minutes of his examination with the police investigators.
"It seems the parents and investigators have made illogical interpretations of stories they have extracted from the children through repetitive and suggestive questioning,” Bantleman’s wife, Tracy, said in an email. “I believe the parents have made inaccurate judgments and baseless accusations. There has been zero evidence to support their claims.”
Bantleman was arrested in July along with an Indonesian teaching assistant, and both are accused of sexually abusing three students at the Jakarta International School.
Both men have maintained their innocence. The school's principal and a number of fellow teachers also say the two are innocent.
Claims inconsistent, family says
Bantleman's family has pointed out that Bantleman and the assistant, Ferdinand Tjiong, were only arrested after the parents of one of the alleged child victims failed in their efforts to reach a financial settlement with the school over alleged abuse by school janitors.
Bantleman’s brother, Guy Bantleman, said there was also testimony Tuesday from MAK's mother, who initially made claims her son was repeatedly raped by the school janitors in March 2014. He says the mother later changed her claims to include his brother and Tjiong.
He says video and photo evidence was introduced by Bantleman's defence team that shows the mother — referred to as TPW — leading her child and police through a late-night re-enactment of the alleged crimes, pointing to show the boy where to go and directing the police.
But he says when the defence tried to show the evidence, the prosecution objected and the defence team was asked to wait until later in the trial.
As in previous sessions, Guy Bantleman says more than 100 parents, students and school staff came to the South Jakarta Court. But he says Canadian Embassy officials were denied access to the courtroom.
Bantleman and Tjiong could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
Family urging Ottawa for support
Their trial is expected to last three months, during which Bantleman's family is urging Ottawa to publicly declare its support for the Ontario man.
Bantleman taught in Calgary for 10 years before working at the Jakarta International School.
Bantleman was first brought into Jarkarta police headquarters for questioning on July 14.
Just as his court case began, five janitors who were also charged with sexual assault were found guilty and face up to eight years in prison for the rape of a kindergartner. Six janitors were arrested in April.
Their lawyers have called their verdicts unfair and have vowed to appeal.
One died in custody, reportedly after drinking bathroom cleaner.
With files from CBC News