I’ve written open letters to your Prime Minister but I guess he wouldn't open them, so I thought I should come directly to his boss.
Many of you may have heard this story; it comes from just below the equator on the other side of the world, but it’s a tale so astonishing it’s made it’s way out.
It concerns, among others, a kidnapped Canadian citizen named Neil Bantleman, who teaches at the Jakarta Intercultural School (JIS) in Indonesia, along with associate Ferdi Tjiong, and a cast of English speaking educators from all over the world. About a year ago, the parent of a kindergartener came to school saying her son had been sexually abused by members of the janitorial staff, hired by ISS, a Danish cleaning company. Members of the school were alarmed and did what any of us would do upon hearing that awful news: believe it and find the predators, or believe it until it can no longer be believed. Six cleaners were arrested. Some confessed under what, in retrospect, appears to be torture. One who didn’t confess is dead. When the cleaners got to what they thought was the relative safety of the courtroom, they attempted to recant, citing the torture and the fear that had they not confessed, would have ended up like their dead compatriot, who the police insisted committed suicide by drinking cleaning fluid, but who died with serious bruising and cutting on his body and head.
The convictions held, the cleaners lost their appeal. Four received eight year sentences, one – a female with representation - got seven years.
The mother of the child sued the school for something close to thirteen million (USD). When she discovered the cleaners didn’t work for the school, but for ISS, she was joined in her accusations by two other mothers, upped the lawsuit by a factor of ten and named Mr. Bantleman, a teacher/administrator and Mr. Tjiong, a teaching assistant, as offenders also. She attempted to add the name of a U.S. citizen but by then the implausibility of the details were becoming the impossibility of the details, and representation from the American Embassy stepped in. That American’s name was removed from the charges.
Here are a few of those particulars that brought the American Embassy to its feet:
-No reputable doctor found any evidence sexual abuse, even though the charges included serial anal penetration over a long period of time.
-When the mother was asked by credible examining doctors to return the child for further testing, she never returned.
-Several of the male cleaners carried a herpes virus, very common among Indonesian men. Though the mother insisted her child had contracted the disease, he did not. All credible medical opinion said, and still says, it would be impossible for the child to have been raped by those cleaners over the period of time the mother alleged, and not contracted the virus.
-In testimony a policeman told the court that both Neil and Ferdi had failed a lied detector test. Evidence of that test was never produced.
The area in which the supposed abuse took place, during school hours as described by the accusing mothers, is visible from at least thirty yards away on all sides. One of the rooms where it was supposed to have happened is called "the aquarium", because all four walls are glass. If a child was sodomized during school hours over that long period of time, all the elementary staff and half the parents are accomplices.
-Two of the cleaners who were identified by the child (and his mother) on the first day, were only present on that day. Their assignments were in a different part of the campus.
The two children whose names were entered later in the proceedings, continued to attend the school after the first mother’s charges, and showed no fear, trepidation or odd behavior of any kind as they played freely around the area that would have been their private hell. And remember this was through a time before the arrests of Neil Bantleman and Ferdi Tjiong when school officials still believed that something probably happened with the cleaners. That is to say, they were vigilant.
After that it gets crazy. The lawsuit is increased tenfold and Neil and Ferdi go to jail, awaiting trial.
The court proceedings, which are now finally available to the public, would embarrass a kangaroo. The head judge of the three judge panel – her name is Nuraslam Bustaman and let it be trumpeted across the globe, ‘cause this lady is on the take – rejected the biological/medical evidence presented by the defense and accepted the mindnumbingly absurd utterances of the prosecution: 1)Neil had produced a magic stone from thin air to insert into one little boys anus to anesthetize him from the pain. He then returned the stone to a low flying airplane. 2) The fact that Neil said in testimony that he and his wife had sex about once a week was proof to Nuraslam and the other two judges that he must be having the rest of his sex elsewhere. (Forget the adage that has proven true for ninety percent of married couples in our species: place one bean in a jar every time you have sex the first year of marriage and then take one bean out every time you have sex after that…and you’ll never run out of beans.) 3) Kids don’t lie. (If you ever had a kid or were a kid, you know that’s a crock.) Kids lie all the time. They lie to get out of trouble; they lie to please their parents; they lie to get another cookie. And they sure as hell lie to get their momma a hundred thirty million (USD) while making the nice policemen happy.
The judges conviction/sentencing statement/tirade lasted eight hours. Feel free to go to Freeneilandferdi on Facebook and hit links all day long. But put padding under your chin to soften the impact when it hits your desk.
Or trust me. I worked as a child abuse and neglect therapist in the world of abuse for more than twenty years, and served as chairperson for the original Spokane Child Protection Team for thirty years. I have qualified to testify as an expert witness in both Juvenile and Superior Court in the state of Washington countless times. I’ve kept bad guys away from kids most of my adult life.
Neil and Ferdi are not bad guys, nor are the cleaners. They were feeding their families one day, and pariah the next. One escaped being a pariah. He’s dead. This isn’t an issue that can be perceived either way. It isn’t a flip of the coin; it’s not 51-49. This is 100-0. This is corruption and greed with heart-stopping nonchalance. Seven men and a woman not only wrongly accused of a crime, but accused of a crime that never happened.
I know it’s hard to hear of accusations like this without thinking, SOMETHING happened. Well, you’re right. Something did happen. Some cops and some judges and some parents, driven by astonishing greed, left whatever moral fiber they may have possessed behind (and believe me, those fibers had to be microscopic in the first place) and went about systematically destroying the lives of eight families.
PEOPLE OF CANADA! A loyal citizen has been kidnapped – there’s no other way to say it. The extortion sits there like the 800 pound gorilla no one wants to see, and your government remains maddeningly silent! The school where that citizen taught sends its best and brightest to the finest English-speaking universities all over the world. They are future citizens who will make a global difference. And I’ll say it again: No U.S. citizens were charged because the U.S. wouldn’t stand for it. I ask you, is Neil Bantleman’s only crime being Canadian? Look, if you know anyone with influence in Indonesian politics or economy, it’s time to rattle their cages! Scream for them to bring pressure! We need ALL the voices in Whoville. All of them.
And tell your Prime Minister that if he’s willing to leave his dead and wounded soldiers on the battlefield, he’s not man, or woman, enough to lead you.