Dio Suhenda, Jakarta – A local court on Tuesday opened the trial of a Quran teacher from Depok, West Java, who was indicted for child molestation involving 10 female students, all minors, according to Kompas.com.
In the closed-door trial at the Depok District Court, the defendant, identified only by the initials MMS, was charged under Article 81 of the 2016 Child Protection Law for sexually abusing 10 female students on multiple occasions at his residence, where he held Quran lessons.
The head of the Depok District Attorney's Office, Mia Banulita, said MMS did not object to the indictment.
If he is found guilty, MMS faces a prison sentence of five to 15 years and a maximum fine of Rp 5 billion.
The court can hand down a sentence longer than the maximum 15 years under the 2016 law, which allows extending the prison by an additional five years in cases of sexual abuse committed by an educator or sexual abuse that involves more than one child.
The defendant's legal representative, Barbie Kumalasari, attributed a preexisting "illness" to MMS' actions, as reported by Kompas.com earlier on Tuesday.
Barbie added that the defense would present a number of mitigating factors to the court in hopes of lightening his sentence. These factors included MMS providing free Quran lessons, as well as free food and drink, for the past three years.
"Those are his positive sides that might at least lighten [his punishment], and he has also been very cooperative in admitting [his crime] and during the court process," Barbie said.
Police arrested MMS at his residence in December 2021 after the parents of several students reported him to the authorities.
Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Endra Zulpan told Kompas that MMS allegedly molested the female students, aged 10 to 15 years, between October and December last year, but that the assault did not involve sexual penetration.
Continuing, Zulpan said MMS allegedly seduced, intimidated and threatened his victims to submit to his demands. He added that MMS also gave the victims a little money to prevent them from reporting him.
The case is the latest in a recent string of sexual abuse cases involving religion teachers molesting their students, which has shed more light on child sexual abuse in the country.
Earlier this month, the Bandung Police arrested a male teacher employed at an Islamic school in Pangalengan, Bandung regency, West Java, in connection with allegations of sexual abuse.
The man, identified as SS, was arrested in Tasikmalaya, West Java, for allegedly molesting at least a dozen victims aged 10 and 11, according to the Bandung Police.
In a case that made global headlines earlier this month, Hery Wirawan, a teacher at a pesantren (Islamic boarding school) in Bandung, West Java, was sentenced to death for raping 13 students.
The Bandung High Court found Hery guilty of raping 13 female students, all minors at the time the abuse took place, and impregnating at least eight.