Tainan prosecutors and police yesterday said they have begun investigations into a prominent cram school teacher surnamed Chen (陳) who has been accused of sexually abusing a student who later committed suicide.
The Tainan Prosecutors’ Office confirmed that a judicial investigation now under way, headed by prosecutors of the Women and Children Protection Section, while the Tainan Police Department has formed a special task force to seek out persons of interest for information regarding the case.
Tainan Police Chief Huang Chung-jen (黃宗仁) said that as public officials have made accusations against Chen, a criminal investigation has been launched, adding that authorities would interview the alleged victim’s parents, who live in Tainan, and others connected with the case.
Screengrab from Facebook
Chen, who teaches Chinese, has been at the center of a media furor after Kaohsiung City Councilor Hsiao Jung-ta (蕭永達) on Tuesday accused the teacher of seducing and raping a young writer surnamed Lin (林) during her school years. Lin committed suicide last week.
Lin, 26, had recently published a novel, which her parents said she wrote based on her traumatic experience as a teenage victim of sexual abuse by a cram school teacher. They said the incident led to their daughter's depression and eventual suicide.
The death of the young writer, who had an outstanding academic record, sparked widespread public discussion about the darker side of the nation’s educational culture, particularly allegations of sexual abuse by male teachers in both public and private institutions.
According to one media outlet, the cram school’s owner on Friday last week asked Chen about the allegations against him and quoted him as saying: “She [Lin] is already dead. Anything I say about [the matter] is not going to help.”
“We want to terminate his contract, and he does not want to teach anymore,” the owner told reporters.
On Friday last week, Lin’s parents issued a statement through her publisher alleging that she had been raped years ago by a cram school teacher and that the trauma had led to her death.
As the statement contained Lin’s full name, it was met with a warning from the Ministry of Health and Welfare, which said that a victim’s name cannot be disclosed due to the Sexual Assault Crime Prevention Act (性侵害犯罪防治法), which aims to protect the identity and privacy of sexual assault victims.
The ministry’s warning triggered a wave of criticism.
However, in a legislative session on Wednesday, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said no fine would be levied against Lin’s parents, as warnings were meant to protect victims.
Later that day, Taipei Department of Information and Tourism Commissioner Chien Yu-yen (簡余晏) said that Lin’s name should be disclosed, because the issue allegedly behind her death is significant to social justice.
Naming Lin in media reports is the right thing to do, Chien said, adding that her parents had already issued a statement alleging that she was a victim of sexual assault.
Chien said that disclosure of Lin’s name does not violate Article 13 of the act, which stipulates that “publicity material, publications, broadcasts, television, Internet content or other kinds of media should not report or publish the name or any other personal identifiable information about the victim,” as it also says that such limitations do not apply if authorities consider the disclosure as necessary in matters of social justice.
Separately yesterday, the Control Yuan announced that it would commence a review of authorities’ oversight of educational institutions and whether mechanisms to file complaints and ask for help are in place.
Additional Reporting by CNA
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