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December 30, 2013

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Painful truth still haunts molestation victims

Two male victims of a high profile teenage molestation case involving a renowned Shanghai high school physics teacher told a TV channel they were disappointed he never faced the courts due to a poorly worded law on sexual assault.

Liu Yidong and Wu Zhenhao, both in their 30s, were molested more than 15 years ago by former teacher Zhang Datong.

They told China Central Television they decided to go public with their case because Zhang has been teaching recently at training centers and they didn’t want any other boys to be harmed.

Although Zhang was sacked from the school following the scandal, he was not criminally punished as the law didn’t include provisions about male sexual assault victims.

“I felt very disappointed when I was informed he was not legally punished,” Liu told CCTV, who lives in the US now and was interviewed via web cam, “If he still has a chance to approach teens, it would be a failure for the nation. Child molesters can’t stage a comeback in the US.”

Zhang, 65, a former vice principal at No. 2 High School of East China Normal University, a member of Shanghai’s top political advisory body and a renowned physics teacher, was accused of having “intimate bodily contact” with Liu and Wu after class when they were students 15 years ago.

He invited teenage boys to his house or office for “private tutoring,” which most teens considered a chance to improve academically.

They never suspected a trap.

“He talked to me about a physics competition and a training plan at his home,” Liu was cited as saying.

“When our talk was about to come to an end, he said being a competitor required not only perseverance but good physical health.

“He then took out a stethoscope and offered to give me a physical examination as he allegedly used to study medicine. After examining my heart and lungs, he asked me to take off my pants and underpants.”

Liu told CCTV that although he was shocked by Zhang’s behavior, he trusted his teacher and didn’t resist.

Wu said Zhang had a strong reputation, making it almost impossible to resist.

“When he said he knew medicine, you believed it,” Wu told CCTV, adding that the “ridiculous thing” Zhang did to him confused him about what was right and wrong.

Wu also told the broadcaster he later learned of other victims and that they banded together to form a “brotherhood.”

Seven known victims kept quiet about being molested for 15 years, but went public online last year to unmask Zhang. They also posted an e-mail address to encourage those who had similar experiences to come forward. Based on the responses, they said Zhang had been molesting boys for nearly 20 years.

Liu said legal action was considered. “We consulted lawyers about it but they told us there were no laws to protect males aged above 14,” Liu told CCTV.

Fu Xiaomei, a Beijing prosecutor who has handled six cases involving molested boys, said: “It’s a big gap in the law. Although the number of boys who have been molested may be less than girls, the physical or mental harm they receive is just as damaging.”

When asked if they had received sex education at home or in school, both Liu and Wu shook their heads.

“Of course when you are beaten by someone you know it is assault, but no one told us molesting is a type of assault.” Wu told CCTV.

“As a victim, you are completely innocent and you shouldn’t be ashamed about it,” he continued. “Others need to understand this and support sex assault victims rather than discriminate against them.”



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