MUKDAHAN — A school director is facing investigation for allegedly letting the teachers who stand accused of gangraping two schoolgirls off the hook, education officials said Wednesday.
An inquiry committee was set up to look into the allegations of negligence of the director of Dongmon Wittayakhom School in Mukdahan province after it emerged that similar sexual assaults had occurred in the past under his oversight, president of teacher’s ethics committee Ekachai Kisukpan said.
“The school’s director may also be considered as unethical if he knew [about the attacks] and refrained from taking any actions,” Ekachai said. “If it turns out that he already knew, it is considered as a malfeasance and his license may be revoked.”
Ekachai said the committee will officially revoke teaching licenses of the five teachers involved in the attacks during its next meeting on Friday. The accused teachers had been fired immediately after accounts of the assaults surfaced, education minister Nataphol Teepsuwan said earlier on Monday.
Rachan Ardwichai, the director of Dongmon Wittayakhom School, has not spoken to the press since the news broke out last week.
A female teacher at the same school who wrote messages supporting the alleged attackers on her social media will also be given a warning letter since her action was considered as a “moral disgrace,” ethics board president Ekachai said.
Two Victims Step Forward
A criminal investigation into the rape of a 16-year-old student, one of the two victims to come forward with the allegations, continued Tuesday. Three teachers accused of the assault surrendered to police on that day.
Lt. Col. Preecha Krongyut, an investigator at Pung Daet Police Station, said the three men were charged with raping an underage girl. They denied the allegations and were later released on bail.
All of the seven suspects, five of them teachers, had been previously charged over their alleged rape of a 14-year-old student at the same school.
According to the police, the attacks were carried out against the two victims for at least six times over the course of one year.
The case gained considerable attention from the public, as well as high-ranking officials including PM Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha, who ordered the police to seek maximum punishments for the suspects.
“The investigation has to be carried out under the law. [The suspects] must be punished severely if they are found guilty and there’s clear evidence against them,” Prayut said Tuesday. “Teachers are considered to be important professionals, so they must be a good role model for children and the society.”
Witness Protection Sought
A group of children welfare activists also asked the Ministry of Justice to provide protection for the victims as they feared retaliation from the suspects, who have been released on bail.
They filed a petition to justice minister Somsak Thepsutin on Tuesday.
“I ask the Ministry of Justice to bring the victims and their families under witness protection process as soon as possible,” sec-gen of the Children, Youth and Family Foundation Ticha Na Nagara said.
She continued, “The ministry should also province mental rehabilitation to the victims and figure out a solution to prevent this kind of incidents from recurring again.”
Regional justice office chief Wirat Srimongkol said one of the victims is currently under the care of a children’s shelter, while another stays with her parents.
They were given a 10,000 baht compensation each from the government’s funds for crime victims, he said.