An Indonesian principal has been sentenced to life in prison for raping 13 students

BANDUNG – An Indonesian court on Tuesday sentenced the director of an Islamic boarding school to life in prison for raping at least 13 students over five years and fertilizing some of them.

The principal of a school for girls in Bandung, West Java, Harry Viravan, pleaded guilty and apologized to his victims and their families during the trial.

According to the indictment, he was accused of raping at least 13 students aged 11 to 14 from 2016 to 2021 at school, in hotel rooms or in rented apartments. At least nine children were reportedly raped.

The case caused a public outcry over the number of rapes and the length of time they took place.

Officials said many victims did not report the rape for fear of having a traumatic experience, and their parents believed the boarding school was helping their children become good and religious people.

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West Java police began investigating the case and arrested Viravan last May when the victim’s parents contacted police after their daughter returned home for the holiday and admitted she had just given birth.

The case did not become public until November, when the trial began. Police said they are waiting to make this public to prevent further psychological and social harm to the victims.

A panel of three judges from Bandung District Court found Viravan guilty of violating the Child Protection Act and the Criminal Code. They also ordered the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection to pay 331 million rupees ($ 23,200) as a combined compensation requested by the victims, and between $ 600 and $ 6,000 for medical and psychological assistance to each girl.

“The convict intentionally committed violence and indecent acts,” said Judge Johannes Purnama Surio Ali, presiding judge. “Instead of educating his students, he resorted to violence or the threat of violence to force children to have sex with him.”

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The judges also ruled that nine children born to the victims should be transferred to the Agency for the Protection of Children and Women with periodic evaluation, “until the victims are mentally ready to take care of their children and the situation allows their children to return to the victim.”

The prosecutor’s office requested that Virovan be sentenced to death as well as chemical castration. Judges rejected the request for chemical castration, saying that the Criminal Code stipulates that persons sentenced to death or life imprisonment may not be subjected to punishment other than deprivation of certain rights.

Viravan’s prosecutor’s office and lawyers have said they are considering whether to appeal. They have seven days to do so before the court decision becomes legal.

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