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June 29, 2012

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School official sacked, molestation alleged

A SENIOR official at a local high school has been sacked yesterday after a group of men in their thirties accused him of having "intimate bodily contacts" with them after class when they were students 15 years ago.

Zhang Datong, 64, vice dean of the No.2 High School of East China Normal University - also a member of Shanghai's top political advisory body and a renowned physics teacher - was removed from post in school for "behavior violating teacher ethics," the school said in a statement yesterday.

"The investigation is ongoing and we don't know whether he is guilty of molesting boys as online accusations said," a school official surnamed Wu told Shanghai Daily.

Zhang could not be reached for comment. It was unclear late yesterday whether the police had gotten involved.

Zhang was sacked one day after more than 10 men now in their thirties went on microblogging site and made the accusations using, they said, their real names.

"As a physics teacher, Zhang has behaved in a way violating teacher ethics, toward male students, with the excuse of taking them for examinations of their bodies," said Internet user Liu Yidong.

"As victims, we decided not to remain silent but to tell the incidents to the public using real names," the man added.

Another Internet user who identified himself as "Bihan" wrote that he could testify that the teacher had "inappropriate bodily contacts with 10-plus male students by taking them for body exams alone after class."

"He was a legend in those years. I thought that I could have glorious achievements after getting his special coaching," another man, Yanfeng Chen, wrote. "After coaching, he had 'intimate contacts' with me, and I thought it was love from a good teacher. But later I started to doubt and fear as the special treatment continued. I gathered the courage to come forward now as a father and I hope it won't be too late."

"I chose to keep silent due to ignorance at that time. Now I feel angry when assuming that my son might have the same experience as I had," another member of the group, Li Pinxiang, wrote. "I don't want the next generation of students to be harmed."

A former colleague of Zhang's at the school, who refused to be named, told Shanghai Daily that Zhang would pick elite students from his class and coach them at his home before they went to the United States for the International Physics Olympiad.

After rumors about Zhang spread, he was no longer allowed to teach students directly but worked on books and other academic works, the ex-colleague said.

Zhang, who wrote "Road to Gold Medals," became known as his students repeatedly won gold medals since 1991 at the International Physics Olympiad.


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