Suherdjoko, Batang, Central Java – Central Java Police have arrested a 58-year-old principal at a pesantren (Islamic boarding school) in Bandar district, Batang regency, Central Java, on allegations that he had sexually abused at least 15 female students.
Central Java Police chief Insp. Gen. Ahmad Lutfi said 14 of the victims were underage. "The suspect told the police he had been [sexually abusing students] since 2019," he told a press conference held at the Batang Police station on Tuesday.
Lutfi said the principal, identified as Wildan Mashuri, allegedly woke his victims in the morning and persuaded them to have sex, promising that in doing so they would gain karomah, or the power to perform supernatural deeds.
Wildan apparently also conducted marriage rites and declared that he and his victim were now husband and wife. After the abuse, he then gave his victims money and told them to keep quiet about the incident.
The alleged serial abuse came to light when Wildan's former driver, identified by the initial H, reported to police that he had heard rumors about the abuse and was finally able to obtain information from one of the victims.
The 15 students submitted their own report to the police on April 2.
Two days later, the police questioned Wildan and then arrested him on charges of sexual abuse under the Children Protection Law, which carry a punishment of a minimum 5 years and a maximum 15 years in prison.
Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo called on regional administrations at all levels to take serious measures in monitoring the education system.
"We will evaluate the pesantren. Our team, along with the Religious Affairs Ministry, will decide whether the pesantren can continue or should be shut down," Ganjar said, referring to the school where the alleged sexual abuse took place.
The governor also said the provincial administration would support trauma therapy for the victims.
In January, the Supreme Court rejected the appeal and upheld the death sentence of a man convicted of raping 13 students at the West Java pesantren he had founded and where he also worked as a teacher.
Herry Wirawan was found guilty of raping female students at his school and impregnating at least eight students between 2016 and 2021. All were minors at the time.
In April 2022, the Bandung High Court sentenced Herry to death on the prosecution's appeal against the life sentence handed down by a lower court. The court also ordered him to pay more than Rp 300 million (US$20,909) in restitution to the victims and that his assets be seized and auctioned off, with the proceeds to be used to financially support the victims and their children.
Herry's crime came to light when the family of one of the victims reported him to the police in late 2021. As the case unfolded, the serial child sexual abuse sparked national outrage. (dre)