Hainan province teacher, city official arrested over sex assault of six girls
Year-six classmates found groggy at hotels in Hainan's Wanning and Haikou cities after being abducted before school and held for two days
A schoolmaster and a government official in Hainan province have been arrested in connection with the sexual assault of six primary school girls, local authorities said yesterday.
The year-six classmates at Wanning Houlang primary school were receiving one-on-one counselling and assisting in the police investigation.
Provincial authorities said they had been sexually molested but not raped. However, a police officer involved in the case said earlier that at least some of the girls had been raped.
The incident, reported by the Beijing-based Legal Daily, triggered national outcry, with calls for those responsible to be severely punished. The two suspects are set to stand trial, and the schoolmaster was removed from his post yesterday by Wanning city education authorities.
The girls were reported missing after failing to show up for school on Wednesday. The school and parents launched a search, and four girls were found in Haikou , more than 160 kilometres away from their hometown, late on Thursday . Two others were found in Wanning on Friday morning.
The Legal Daily said one girl was found at a relative's home in Haikou, three at an apartment in Haikou's Chengxi township, and the other two at a hotel in Wanning's Changfeng township.
A victim's father told the South China Morning Post that the girls were taken by a Wanning government official and the principal of another primary school in Wanning.
The Houlang schoolmaster said police were investigating the incident and refused to comment further. The girls' teacher could not be reached.
The victim's father said his daughter was in a stable condition and helping police.
"She is too little to know what happened to her - she's not even 12 yet," he said. "She complained of having headaches, on and off, during the weekend.
"I have no choice but to stay calm because we need to get to the bottom of this and find out exactly what happened to my girl. We must see that whoever did this is locked away."
According to an officer of a local police branch that found two of the girls, they were scared and unable to answer any questions.
"They wouldn't tell us their names or how they ended up [where they were found], even when their parents asked. They would only hide in their blankets. We sent them for physical examinations on Friday afternoon," the officer said. "Honestly, the whole nation is fuming at the news. They are only children, and this is definitely rape … Anyone with the least bit of conscious would not be capable of such a crime."
The Legal Daily reported that bruises were found on some girls' wrists, and their genitals had suffered various degrees of injuries, while all six of them appeared groggy when found.
The newspaper said four of the girls were found at Wanning's Luchunyuan hotel, where surveillance footage captured the arrested schoolmaster. The two other girls reportedly spent two nights at a resort hotel with the official, who allegedly works for the city's housing authority.