July Update: ESL teacher flees after sexual crime charges in Daegu.

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Okay, here we go– some asshole sexual predator did it again.  He went and molested some Korean students in Daegu. Yesterday afternoon, the DMOE sent out an email letter explaining a bit of the incident. A 55-year-old native English teacher from the U.S. was found molesting 5 male students in a Daegu elementary school. Hired directly by the school itself, he did not go through the EPIK application process …or the criminal background check that we did. Once discovered, the perp fled the country to Japan <Read more on Gusts of Popular Feeling’s blogspot>.

The high school which hired this criminal however, was legally under the DMOE’s jurisdiction; thus, the DMOE is taking some hard hits  about the case right now. Incidentally, this could account for the new change this week in our school, as all teachers were given official school badges to wear during school hours, showing we are teachers of our school (vs walk-in strangers). Nevertheless, the DMOE thanked us for our good conduct as native English teachers, while also subtly reminding us that we/our actions are the face and reputation of the program.

All I can say is- thank God it wasn’t an EPIK teacher! And secondly… those kinds of crimes against children sicken me. It was hard to not cry reading about it; crimes against children are the worst.  Unfortunately, Asia (and Southeast Asia more specifically) is recording a boom in foreign sex offenders (mostly from the U.S.) where child trafficking and prostitution gives predators free roam and the ability to go unnoticed.
Sex offense crimes committed by native English teachers, has been an issue in the past, enough to enforce a criminal check requirement in teach abroad applications bound for Korea. This notion of sex crimes by foreigners draws scary impressions upon Korean minds and it’s something the government is scrambling to deal with.  Foreigners’ activities are always placed in the forefront-  good (as some EPIKers know from having their classrooms filmed for public news) or bad;  on Korean mentality however, it’s been said there’s a tendency to over-generalize on assumptions that one bad apple in the barrel spoils the bunch!  This problem with sex offenders has given way to such news as Brian in Jeollanam-do‘s blog on Korea’s ban on sex offenders, the threat of immediate deportation, even chemical castration!  For longer termed expats living in Korea, this is just one more thing that will fuel the press, anti-foreigner extremists and in general, Korean anxieties towards foreigners.

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6 Comments. Leave new

[…] same tutor believes that an American teacher offers a certain trust to parents and students, which has increased their […]

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Matt Narciso | Teaching ESL Students
September 23, 2010 11:34 pm

The Korean government’s move to add new drug tests for an English teaching or E-2 visa is drawing protests from foreign teachers. From this Thursday, those who want to obtain the visa should receive an additional “cannabinoids” drug tests, which detects marijuana.

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Thanks for posting Christine. I found your post while doing a search for more info on the incident. I believe he was a teacher at an elementary school, right?

I read other reports that criticize school officials and teachers for not taking the accusations seriously or not taking proper action to investigate. Maybe there’s an information gap and just lack of information about the case in general, but it seems to me there was enough time to detain the guy before he fled. Like setting a travel ban early on since there was an extremely high that he would try to leave the country.

Anyway, maybe I’m being pessimistic, but I don’t think this incident will be treated as a way to improve policies that aren’t working. I think we’re already seeing how it’s being dealt with. It’s one thing to scrutinize NETs behavior and require stricter background checks and tests. But what about how the schools deal with these cases? I think there needs to be more accountability on the schools too.

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    @Malou: Yes, apologies- thanks for commenting and on the correction– elementary school! I got the story slighting mixed w/ other cases I was reading about. Researching Korea isn’t easy… Seems like many sex related crimes against minors have gone either unreported or in some instances, treated with a blind eye. When it involves a foreigner, it makes the news. But does Korea deal with criminal justice in any more or less of a bureaucratic manner than in the U.S? Dunno. I def. think schools need to be accountable. Unfortunately, sexual abuse against minors is a topic that no school, even in some cases, parents want to deal with. This guy obviously wasn’t a “normal” NET. There are reports that Asia is starting to catch more sex offenders crossing their borders from the west. I find this alarming.
    @Jill Thanks. The criminal background checks that NETs are required to have in Korea (the EPIK/gov program is the only I can verify so far) needs to be acquired directly from the State you reside in and verified through apostille. Online background checks are not accepted. We all have a duty to keep a watchful eye on the safety of children- if we can’t protect them, who will?

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A complete criminal background check can now be done right in your home and without even driving out of town. However, you must also consider that these info and data should be recent and updated regularly. This is why we should all keep track of our children’s lives from teacher’s to coaches.

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Now there’s a negative to tourism I hadn’t ever considered. How horrible.

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