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School abuse case remains in limbo in Kampong Chhnang

School abuse case remains in limbo in Kampong Chhnang

The families of four children who claim they were sexually harassed by their teacher at a Kampong Chhnang school lodged a complaint with the Ministry of Education yesterday, saying that three years later, no appropriate action had been taken.

In 2013, Khiev Khuy said his then-14-year-old niece and three other students had faced months of harassment and abuse at the hands of their teacher, then 35, who allegedly threatened the teens and told them they would fail if they confided to their parents about his actions.

While the teacher was suspended, the investigation stagnated and the teacher was shuffled into an administrative role at the Rolea Ba’ier district department of education.

Khuy yesterday claimed the appointment amounted to a promotion and said he was seeking justice and compensation for the victims, adding the suspect had escaped punishment while the children continued to suffer.

“Three children among the four, my niece was one among them, stopped going to school because they were so embarrassed, and that is so sad,” he said. “I am not sure what their future looks like if they do not attend school now.”

Khuy said that the complaint urged the ministry to take stronger action against the teacher and to expedite the court process.

Kampong Chhnang Provincial Court spokesperson Chhoun Sivin confirmed the former teacher was employed in a departmental capacity and said the three-year delay in prosecuting the case came down to a switch in judges. “As we changed the judge, thus, the case is just being prepared to solve,” he said. “This case is in process and . . . is in the hands of the investigating judge.”

Previously, victims were told the investigation had been dropped, but the reasons were unclear. In August 2013, Adhoc provincial coordinator Sam Chankea was summonsed to appear before the court, after he publicly questioned the decision to stop investigating.

The families banded together in protest last weekend and reached out to rights group Licadho’s provincial coordinator, Kong Chanmony. “Now we just observe the procedure of the court and ask for them to accelerate their work as soon as possible,” Chanmony said.

Ministry of Education spokesperson Ros Salin declined to comment yesterday.

Additional reporting Erin Handley

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