Lycee Francais de Shanghai French school

American teacher held in Shanghai over allegations of child sex abuse

Suspect said to have been a friend of former instructor at same school who was extradited to the US on similar charges, school admits

An American teacher at an elite French school in Shanghai has been arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting at least seven children, school officials and parents said yesterday.

The Shanghai kindergarten teacher was seized by police last month after seven families filed formal accusations against him, alleging sexual abuse and rape of students of both sexes, several parents said.

A former instructor at the school, also an American, was extradited to the US on similar charges.

Education authorities have stepped up supervision of foreign teachers since April following two child sex scandals, in Beijing and Nanjing . Local schools on the mainland have also been mired in a series of child molestation cases exposed recently.

"As parents we are devastated," said the mother of one pupil, who requested anonymity to protect her child's privacy.

Shanghai police yesterday confirmed that they detained the teacher, a 32-year-old surnamed McMahon, on May 13 and said he was suspected of molesting "several" children, Xinhua reported. In one case, the suspect had allegedly molested a student "several times", Xinhua said.

Management at the Lycee Francais de Shanghai said: "Families have lodged complaints with the Chinese police against a teacher at the French school of Shanghai over assaults on their children. The investigation is being carried out by the Chinese police and is ongoing."

The mother said her child started behaving oddly soon after they moved to China.

"My daughter was having nervous breakdowns, she was scratching herself on her face and thighs," she said. "As we had just arrived in China I figured it was exhaustion from moving countries; I didn't worry about it."

Only later did she link the unusual behaviour to abuse.

The fee-paying school declined to provide precise details of the accusations against the teacher, nor over what period they allegedly took place. A notice addressed to families referred to "sexual assaults".

Another mother said she suspected her daughter had been abused over a period of months, and that cases of abuse of other children went back as far as five years.

"We are living a nightmare," she said.

The second teacher, a friend of the first, was "extradited by Chinese authorities to the US in December 2012 following an investigation into sexual touching and violence against minors", the school said in an e-mail.

From 2005 until last year he worked alternately at the French and German schools, which share a campus. He left the French school in 2011 and its management said his alleged actions took place during individual classes at a private home when he was no longer on staff.


This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: American teacher held over child sex abuse in Shanghai