Indonesian police say charges pending against former Calgary teacher
Published Wednesday, October 29, 2014 7:01AM MDT Last Updated Wednesday, October 29, 2014 6:33PM MDT
Authorities in Indonesia say charges will be laid against a former Calgary teacher who has been held in a Jakarta prison since July.
Neil Bantleman, 45, was arrested after an investigation was launched into allegations that three kindergarten students were sexually assaulted at a private school in the Indonesian capital.
Bantleman has worked at the Jakarta International School since 2007 and was detained by police when he went to the station as a witness to answer questions regarding the investigation.
That detention was initially for 20 days but has been extended several times.
Bantleman’s brother Guy spoke to CTV Calgary on Wednesday and said the family was expecting his release so news that formal charges are pending is especially devastating.
“We really were focused on day 120 and looking forward to Neil’s release but obviously things progressed in an unfortunate manner and we now need to deal with charges and the trial phase of this nightmare,” said Guy Bantleman.
His former colleagues at the Calgary’s Webber Academy have stood by him saying he is a well-respected educator with an impeccable reputation.
“When I heard the news this morning that charges were going to be laid against Neil Bantleman I was shocked. I’ve known Neil Bantleman for a number of years. He taught at Webber Academy for approximately ten years. Tremendous teacher, great reputation, students loved him,” said Neil Webber.
His supporters say they believe he is being smeared by the parents of the alleged victims who are suing the school for $125M.
“We don’t have any physical evidence. We do know the different medical tests and the searches of Neil’s home and office have all come back without anything. Neil passed the lie detector test and it’s been one of our questions from the onset, you know, what evidence did they have to hold Neil or continue to hold Neil. Obviously they got to this place and they feel they’ve got something now,” said Guy.
“I’m not aware of any evidence being made known that would indicate that Neil would be guilty of any charges that might be laid as it relates to child abuse,” said Webber. “He was an excellent teacher, great integrity and he was on the quieter side, personality wise, but certainly in the classroom, in the gymnasium with the students, was a very eloquent and forceful in his teachings and was a great coach for a number of teams that the students were on.”
Guy says all the family can do now is wait and see what happens in the next 48 hours.
“We have to really wait the next, kind of, 48 hours and determine what charges are actually going to be laid with respect to this case and then from there we’ll have to, you know, circle with our legal team and the media team and our risk team and really understand how best do we defend Neil and move this forward,” said Guy.
Guy says he learned about the pending charges from Neil’s wife Tracy who called him and said she had a visit with Neil earlier in the day before the news of charges.
“I can just assume that Neil is obviously also devastated by the news and needs to kind of refocus and get his thoughts together but this will be tough on Neil, I know he had a lot of optimism about the 120th day and really moving forward from there,” he said. “As we’ve gone through the different milestones and the different day markers over the last three months there’s always been that optimism as we’ve moved from day 20 to day 60 to day 90, but we really did feel since the file had been passed back and forth four times between the police and the prosecutor that the prosecutor wasn’t going to take up the file and this really did come out of left field and it really did kind of catch us off guard as far as being optimistic about his release.”
Bantleman’s family has asked the Harper government for help and Foreign Affairs says it is monitoring the case.
Friends and family have launched a Facebook campaign to free Neil Bantleman, click HERE for more information.