MUKDAHAN — Three of the seven suspects who stand accused of gangraping a schoolgirl in Mukdahan province appeared to have molested yet another victim, police said Monday.
The seven men, including five teachers who work at Dongmon Wittayakhom School, were already charged over their alleged rape of a 14-year-old student. But police said today that a 16-year-old pupil came forward and accused three of the suspects of assaulting her as well.
The second victim was initially a witness, Mukdahan provincial police chief Maj. Gen. Akapong Pimolsiri said.
“After we heard four witness testimonies, we concluded that [the 16-year-old girl] is not only an eyewitness, but also a victim,” Akapong said. “The crime involves distinct offenses, so we have to separate her case from the case of [the 14-year-old girl]. Investigators are gathering evidence and will issue them another summon warrants.”
The three men, all of them teachers, have yet to be charged for the second alleged attack.
Police launched an investigation into the group after the grandmother of the 14-year-old victim filed a complaint against the five teachers and two alumni on Friday.
“This happened throughout the whole year. My granddaughter has gone through this evil act from the teachers of her school,” the victim’s grandmother said. “This is the true story. They also filmed and shared it among themselves. I’m very upset, and I beg for justice.”
Police said the suspects first assaulted the victims in March 2019 and continued for at least six times until March this year. Some of the attacks even took place inside the school premises, and the victims were blackmailed into silence, according to the police.
All of the suspects turned themselves in last week. They denied the allegations and were later released on bail.
No Safe Space for Children?
The investigation followed a string of other sexual assaults among Thailand’s educational institutions in recent months, and drew much attention on social media.
Hashtag #7EvilTeachers was one of the top trending over the weekend on Thai Twitter, as many condemned the accused, and questioned how the school failed to prevent the assaults.
A person who identified herself as a teacher was also grilled by netizens after she wrote messages supporting the attackers.
“I’m not embarrassed to have you guys as my juniors. They are skillful, kind, and often do good things for the society,” a teacher who is only identified as Joy wrote on her Facebook.
She continued, “I know you guys must be senseless at the moment and forgot about the [duty] of being a teacher. I’m supporting my juniors and their families to live up to this world. I understand you guys and I will continue to be your senior, forever.”
Education minister Nataphol Teepsuwan described the incident as “unacceptable” and ordered a complaint center to be set up at the ministry for students to report any sexual misconduct by their teachers.
He also instructed provincial officers to probe into the school’s director for possible negligence.
The five teachers among the accused were immediately fired and their licenses revoked after words of the assaults surfaced, Nataphol said.
“This is a serious offense and I will not tolerate it. School is children’s second home. If the place is unsafe from the teacher’s behavior, I have to put an end to it,” the minister said.
“Under my watch, there will be no more transfers to inactive posts,” he added. “Every offender will be immediately fired.”