By Ananya Roy
A teacher working in a Quito public school was arrested on allegations that he sexually abused children aged 12 to 14. The arrest was part of a wider investigation into “alleged sexual offenses in the field of education”, a federal prosecutor said on Wednesday.
The arrested teacher was initially accused of molesting 10 children, but an investigation into the case revealed that 84 victims were involved, prosecutor Mariana Huilcapi told the AFP news agency.
Huilcapi added that an investigation began in July 2016 after three teachers were detained and questioned over the suspected sex abuse of students in a school in the southeastern port city of Guayaquil in Ecuador.
A fourth teacher, who is also accused in the case, is still at large. State authorities have reportedly announced a $10,000 reward for locating the absconding teacher, the news agency reported.
Investigators in the port city reportedly interviewed five students, aged seven and eight, of the Guayaquil school, who told them that they were sexually abused in the school bathrooms during breaks.
The prosecution said in a statement that the accused teachers used “deception, threats and intimidation” to lure the children to the bathrooms and private offices to carry out sexual acts.
The authorities have revealed little about the accused although they did say the Quito teacher was a male.
The Guayaquil school incidents involved dozens of children, local media reports stated. The reports also added that the incident prompted a firm reaction from Ecuador President Lenin Moreno. “We cannot allow impunity in these crimes,” the president reportedly wrote on Twitter while commenting on the sex abuse cases.
The president also announced that he will hold a national referendum to seek public opinion on the removal of a statute of limitations on sexual abuse crimes against children from the constitution.
Credit: International Business Times, www.ibtimes.co.uk