Expat teacher from Hong Kong charged with child sex abuse in Cebu
A teacher and former Hong Kong resident has been charged with sexually abusing four children in the Philippines.
Hilton Reece Munro, who last month completed a three-year stint as head of an international school in Guangdong, was arrested last Friday for the alleged abuse of four boys, aged between nine and 14, the Sydney Morning Herald reported yesterday.
Munro, a 45-year-old Australian, is being detained in the holiday resort of Cebu.
Inspector Sheryl Bautista of the Mandaue City Police Office's Women and Children's Protection Desk confirmed that Munro had been charged with four counts of sexual abuse of minors and would appear in court later this month.
His arrest is likely to reignite concerns over screening procedures for foreign teachers on the mainland.
Last month an American teacher was arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting at least seven students at a school in Shanghai, and a British citizen was detained in Beijing in April having taught for four years while sought by UK police for questioning over alleged sex offences.
The incidents have led to calls for greater supervision and vetting of foreign teachers in China.
Police in the Philippines allege that Munro used a 14-year-old boy to recruit younger boys who were then assaulted at a beach hotel on Cebu Island.
According to the Herald, Munro has denied the allegations, telling authorities: "The kids are my friends who were contacted by another friend here in Cebu."
Munro, head of the Zhuhai International School (ZIS) until last month, is understood to have arrived in Cebu on July 5 and had made numerous trips to the Philippines previously.
According to Bonnie Feng, vice-principal of ZIS' sister school, Mayland International School in Guangzhou, Munro also worked there, but only in a management position, and had no direct contact with students.
"He was a decent person, a Catholic. I knew him personally and he was a very good man," Feng said. "I cannot believe this kind of thing would happen."
Feng said Munro had previously taught in Hong Kong, but was unaware of the name or location of the school concerned.
The South China Morning Post sent e-mails to Munro but they were not answered by press time last night.
The Education Bureau would not comment on whether Munro had taught in Hong Kong. It said it "can only release personal information upon the consent of the teacher concerned".
Munro was a keen hockey player, having played for Australia and New Zealand at a national level, and also coached.
"He seemed like a nice guy and he certainly never did anything untoward to me. He didn't mind having a drink, but never did he step out of line in any way," said Matthew Deayton of Hong Kong Cricket Club, who played hockey with Munro several years ago. "I guess people act differently in different circumstances."
Simon Chapman, hockey development officer at the Hong Kong Football Club, played against Munro and said he knew nothing of the arrest. "He just seemed like any bloke on the hockey pitch," Chapman said.
Additional reporting by Olivia Rosenman