School principal, teachers investigated for sexual misconduct

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School principal, teachers investigated for sexual misconduct

A public high school in Seodaemun District, western Seoul, has found itself embroiled in controversy, with its principal and four former and current teachers under investigation over accusations that they engaged in sexual misconduct that lasted more than a year.

The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education, which on Thursday reported the cases involving four of the teachers, announced on Friday that it had also uncovered criminal allegations against the head of the school.

“The principal is alleged to have sexually molested a female teacher in his office in early 2014 and has also been accused of not properly handling the sexual misconduct accusations lodged against other teachers,” an official from the local education office said Friday. “We’ve suspended him from his position … and reported him to the police.”

The principal was suspended from his position as of Friday.

The local education office has been leading a special inspection of the school since July 22, following a complaint submitted by one of its female teachers on July 15.

Teacher A is believed to have sexually harassed a female teacher in her 30s at a karaoke room in February 2014, tugging on her clothes as she resisted his attempts to hug or touch her. The victim apparently told the principal about the incident, though the teacher was never punished and only transferred to another school in March.

Teacher B is alleged to have repeatedly touched and acted physically inappropriately toward female students since 2014 and was reported to the prosecution after being questioned. He had been suspended from his position for three months and was scheduled to return to work on July 20, but has not yet come back from sick leave.

Teacher C, who serves on the school’s committee that deals with sexual crimes, is suspected to have habitually committed indecent physical acts on at least four female students over about a year’s time. He was suspended from teaching after the inspection started on July 22.

Teacher D, who moved to the high school in March, is also suspected of habitually molesting six female teachers. The education authority said that he is also believed to have called some female students names that had sexual connotations, and once even asserted during class that he had imagined having sexual relationships with female celebrities. He was also suspended on July 22.

So far, a total of 130 people have come forward against the five suspects, claiming that they were subject to sexual misconduct.

That includes the students in Teacher D’s class who said his remarks made them feel uncomfortable.

The education office did not specify exact offenses alleged to have been committed by each teacher.

The news stunned the students and parents. “I can’t believe such an incident happened because the school has such strict regulations,” said one parent. “It even gives penalty points to boys and girls who hold hands.”

The principal, meanwhile, has denied the allegations against him.

The inspection team will wrap up its investigation in the next few days and decide on its next steps.

BY KIM BONG-MOON AND NOH JIN-HO [kim.bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]

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