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November 12, 2009

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Kindergarten teacher accused of molestation

A 28-year-old law school graduate who taught at the most expensive kindergarten in Guangzhou stood for trial on Tuesday on child molestation charges, accused of physical harming several boys and stroking most of the 22 children in his class.

A criminal court in Guangzhou's Panyu District held the hearing behind closed doors to protect the privacy of parties involved in the case, Guangzhou-based Southern Metropolis Daily reported yesterday.

The parents of several five-year-old boys enrolled at the kindergarten in Panyu District discovered signs of abuse.

A boy told his father in July that the defendant, surnamed Zhang, had taken off his son's pants and touched him, causing bruising and a cut.

Parents called the kindergarten immediately but school authorities rebuffed their accusation.

However, some other parents found that their sons were similarly treated by Zhang and most children at Zhang's class claimed to have been stroked by him.

Seven parents went to a local police station on July 31.

Recruited in 2007

Zhang, from Hebi City in central China's Henan Province, was recruited by the kindergarten as a teaching assistant in October 2007.

Fluent in English and well paid, he began handling the class from July 2008.

He took care of children's life and worked as an interpreter for foreign teachers in the kindergarten.

Zhang confessed to Panyu police that he had molested three boys in a year, according to a source close to the investigation.

Some parents chose to act as if it never happened and were unwilling to charge Zhang. The first among the seven parents to call police has dropped the accusation, said the same source.

Zhang was seized by police on August 1 and referred to Panyu prosecutors on September 23 and then the court on October 22.

The kindergarten has suspended Zhang from duty and installed monitoring system at bathrooms. Children were given psychological counseling, the report said, citing Chen Xiuping, headmaster of the kindergarten.

Chen told the newspaper that some parents had demanded 2 million yuan (US$292,967) in compensation.


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