CALGARY- Canadian officials continue to push for the release of a former Calgary teacher, who is being held in an Indonesian jail over sexual assault allegations.
Neil Bantleman taught at Webber Academy before moving to Asia to teach at the Jakarta International School. Just over a week ago, he was taken into custody after the family of a kindergarten student alleged the child was drugged and molested. A $125 million lawsuit was launched, and two additional alleged victims have come forward.
Cleaning staff were initially accused, but now Bantleman and a teacher’s aide are behind bars despite no charges being laid.
Bantleman’s wife believes the pair are being framed.
“Implicating a teacher has apparently made this mother feel that she is deserving of 125 million dollars,” says Tracy Bantleman. “My husband’s life and Ferdie’s life are at risk. They are in jail. They’re in a cell with other people who are being detained. And they’re innocent, they did nothing wrong.”
She adds that the men are not being treated well.
“The methods that [police] are using to further interview and interrogate my husband and Ferdi are extremely disturbing.
“Their human rights are being violated.”
Others who work at the school maintain the men are innocent.
“We stand fully behind him, from the school board to the parent community to the head of the school,” says Elsa Donahue, principal of the Jakarta International School. “We just don’t believe any of the allegations. They’re groundless.”
Supporters are now pressuring the Department of Foreign Affairs to intervene in the case.
“We are seeking more information on the case and we are providing consular service, so we are in touch with the individual,” explains Deepak Obhrai, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. “We will be asking the authorities to be as transparent as possible.”
Obhrai adds that Canada’s strong relationship with Indonesia may help move the process along.