Hong Kong Vocational Training Council admits it did not call police over indecent assault on mentally disabled student
Council blames victim’s family for decision, but complaint letter alleges it forced family not to take action
The Vocational Training Council admitted on Thursday it did not call the police after learning that a mentally disabled student had allegedly been indecently assaulted by a school janitor, saying the decision was based on a request from the alleged victim’s family.
The council was responding to a written anonymous complaint circulating in local media since early this week that a teenage male student at the council’s Shine Skills Centre in Tuen Mun had been indecently assaulted by the janitor many times in toilets from 2012 to 2014.
The centre offers training programmes for people with disabilities aged 15 or above.
The complainant said the boy’s family actually wanted to call the police but was forced not to by the council, which was said to have asked the family to sign an agreement that it would not alert the force.
The complaint also named the janitor, who was said to have been asked by the council to retire prematurely in February 2014.
The accuser alleged that the janitor had assaulted many students in the centre, but no complaints were made.
In a statement on Thursday, the council said it had found a case in December 2013 in its records which matched the details in the anonymous complaint.
The council said it had let the male student and his parents know about the seriousness of the case, which it said should be reported to police.
“But the student and his parents repeatedly stressed that they would just ask for an apology from the concerned janitor and there was no need to call the police.”
The council said the decision not to call the police was made on the basis of the student’s and the parents’ wishes and for the protection of their privacy.
It added that the centre had “communicated” with “law enforcement agencies” over the case and had finally arranged for the janitor to apologise to the boy.
The worker, who admitted “his improper behaviour” and was issued a stern written warning, later resigned, according to the council.
It said it would in general submit cases involving alleged crimes to law enforcement agencies, but would also have to respect the will of students and parents.
The statement did not respond to the allegation in the complaint that many male students in the centre were involved.
Labour Party legislator Dr Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung said the case might have involved criminal elements and the alleged victim was vulnerable so the council should have notified the police so they could handle the case in a fair manner.
He said it should also consider that sex offenders might re-offend in the future.