British Kindergarten Teacher Accused of Sexual Harassment
By Kang Shin-who
The parents of a four-year-old girl are accusing a British kindergarten teacher of having sexually molested her.
``The teacher sexually harassed my daughter by kissing her on the lips and touching her teeth with his finger. My daughter disliked it very much. Other teachers including the principal at the kindergarten know about his deviant behavior, but they remained silent,’’ the father told The Korea Times. ``It’s not an isolated case. Several other children have also made similar complaints,’’ he added.
However, the British International Kindergarten in Seoul denied the allegation, claiming the parents were trying to slander the school. In response, the kindergarten’s lawyer sent a letter to the parents in June, demanding an apology by June 11, or it would sue them for defamation and business interference. The lawyer has not taken any legal action as of yet.
The parents said they filed a complaint with the Seoul Central Prosecutors’ Office against the teacher Wednesday alleging sexual harassment. ``I didn’t want to take legal action in the beginning and just asked the kindergarten to apologize. Instead, the school abruptly gave notice that it would sue us for libel,’’ he said.
Located in Seocho-gu, southern Seoul, the kindergarten has about 100 children aged four to seven years old.
The school denies the allegations, saying it had reviewed all CCTV logs and clips. An assistant Korean teacher, the partner of the British teacher, said in a statement presented by the kindergarten that some children used to run competitively toward the teacher and kissed him but she never saw him kissing the children.
However, the parents said that the 28-year-old teacher whose name was withheld for privacy, tricked children into kissing him. Another child’s mother also said she was disappointed with the kindergarten and kept her daughter from attending.
``My daughter said her teacher would be angry if she denied kissing him. I cannot understand how a teacher can educate a child that way. The kindergarten advertises that they hire only qualified teachers with degrees in education, but I doubt the information,’’ she said.
The kindergarten refused an interview request with the teacher.
Meanwhile, the regional education office said that it will sanction the kindergarten for violating regulations requiring private language institutes to report the visa status and other basic information of their teachers to the education authority.
``The kindergarten must report profiles of its teachers to our office. But it did not submit any documents on them since its establishment in 2007,’’ said Lee Gyeong-min, an official of the Gangnam District Office of Education.
The education office said it would apply 10 penalty points to the school. A private language school must suspend its operations if it gets 30 points.
The educational office said it has no personal information on the teacher, which legally should have been presented to it.