The Taichung City Government failed to properly investigate or discipline a school principal accused of sexually assaulting a female student 25 years ago, the Humanistic Education Foundation and lawmakers told a news conference at the Legislative Yuan yesterday.
The Taichung Education Bureau received a complaint against a principal surnamed Huang (黃) in April and did nothing about it until Thursday, more than a week after the woman and the foundation went public with the accusation, the foundation said.
The delayed response enabled the accused to keep his pension without being sufficiently investigated, they said.
Photo: Liu Hsin-te, Taipei Times
City officials are legally required to launch a probe into allegations of sexual misconduct by faculty within a month of receiving a complaint, said Chang Ping (張萍), director of the foundation’s national center for school safety.
The bureau repeatedly contravened the law and the victim’s rights in its handling of the affair, she added.
The victim knew that the statute of limitations on rape had expired so she asked that an administrative investigation be launched instead of a criminal probe, Chang said.
However, the bureau ignored her request and passed her case on to prosecutors, she said.
Other irregularities include allowing the accused to take a leave of absence instead of suspending him and failing to launch a larger inquiry into Huang’s conduct toward other students, she added.
“The municipality insisted on pressing charges through the judicial system instead of conducting a broad administrative investigation, because it wants to cover up its own negligence and protect the culprit,” Chang said.
The bureau’s failure to suspend Huang and call an evaluation within a month of receiving the complaint contravenes the Teachers’ Act (教師法), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chang Liao Wan-chien (張廖萬堅) said.
“The Taichung City Government has no excuse for abetting the culprit and playing deaf to a victim’s cry for help,” he said.
By handing the case to prosecutors, the city went against the wishes of the victim and the spirit of the Sexual Assault Crime Prevention Act (性侵害犯罪防治法), DPP Legislator Fan Yun (范雲) said.
According to law, a local government must assist victims without compelling them to bear witness in court, she said.
“The Taichung Legal Affairs Bureau either knowingly protected the perpetrator by pressing criminal charges ... or is totally ignorant of the law,” she said.
The statute of limitations on rape should be extended to better protect victims and hold abusers in positions of authority accountable, Fan added.
Wu Lin-hui (吳林輝), the Ministry of Education’s director of student affairs and special education, said that Taichung officials were amiss in failing to suspend Huang or launch an inquiry in a timely manner.
As the accused was a principal at the time the complaint was made, the delay allowed him to take a demotion to become a rank-and-file teacher, Wu said, adding that this means Huang would be investigated by the school rather than the bureau.
The ministry recommends that all inquiries into Huang’s conduct be merged into a single probe directed by a higher authority than the school, he said.
The ministry would move toward clarifying and amending the Gender Equity Education Act (性別平等教育法), he added.
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