American teacher in China faces child molestation charges

SHANGHAI (AFP) - The authorities in Shanghai have asked prosecutors to approve child molestation charges against a detained American teacher from a top French school in the city, police said on Friday.

Shanghai's public security bureau said in a statement the 32-year-old man allegedly molested six pupils aged six to 10. The victims are four girls and two boys attending the Lycee Francais de Shanghai, five of them French and one Italian.

The man, whose full name was not given, told the pupils their English homework needed checking to lure them away, the statement said.

"They were taken alone to the school library, deserted places and other locations, forced to take off their clothes and molested," it said.

Police said in a previous statement the man was detained on May 13 after one of the victims came forward a day earlier. Another pupil, a six-year-old American boy, had come forward as a witness to the acts, according to the latest statement.

Parents previously told AFP that seven families filed formal accusations against the teacher, alleging sexual abuse and rape of pupils of both sexes.

The detention came five months after a former teacher at the school, also an American, was extradited to the United States on similar charges, they said.

The school issued a statement on Friday expressing its "empathy in this difficult situation".

Psychological support was being offered, it said, but added that there was no connection between the two cases.

"There would be no link between the present situation and that of a former teacher from the school extradited to the US for acts of sexual abuse of minors committed," it said. He was no longer a school employee at the time, it added.

The school is contracted with the Agency for French Teaching Abroad, a government body. Its two campuses have 1,600 students, ranging in age from three to 18.