|Neil Bantleman (right) with Ferdinand Tijong (co-accused)|
on their way to a pre-trial hearing
Bantleman appeared in court Tuesday, and filed a “personal exception letter” in which he denounces the charges against him. “After listening to the indictment letter I was deeply saddened and appalled to hear my name associated to claims that I could have in any way carried out such heinous crimes,” he wrote.
Neil Bantleman's family says he has received a wealth of support from the community. Here, he's holding a letter from a student behind bars. (Guy Bantleman)
The 45-year-old teacher is facing charges in a sexual assault investigation involving an international school in Jakarta. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that an indictment read in closed court earlier this month accuses Bantleman and aide Ferdinand Tijong with multiple counts of rape involving three different boys.
In his letter, Bantleman calls the allegations “baseless” and “completely false.”
“The lack of clear, explicit, and comprehensive evidence, as required by Indonesian law only speaks to my innocence.”
Bantleman and his supporters say the lack of a firm time-frame surrounding the alleged incidents undermines the case against him. In prosecution’s letter of indictment, it states that the incidents took place “in a certain time between the months of January 2013 through March 2014, or at least at a certain time in the years of 2013 through 2014.”
“It is impossible for me or anyone else to defend myself against an allegation that is so extremely vague,” Bantleman wrote.
In an email, Bantleman’s brother Guy said the court is expected to make a decision on the exceptions next Tuesday. “At this time we also believe that the court will make a decision on the request for a change in the detention facility for Neil if the case moves forward,” he wrote. “We have requested ‘city or house’ arrest.
|Bantleman's supporters were in court on Tuesday, according to his family.|
Judges will announce their decision whether to proceed after hearing the arguments of Bantleman’s lawyer. But exceptions are rarely granted, his brother said.
The prosecution is expected to call its key witness — one of the children who alleged sexual assault — sometime later this month or in January.
|Bantleman gets a brief moment to kiss his wife, Tracy, before the hearing|
He taught for 10 years at Webber Academy in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.