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Indonesia

Indonesian minister held for child abuse

Orphanage owner also faces allegations of neglect and beatings

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Indonesian minister held for child abuse

Orphanage co-owner and wife of accused, Yuni Winata, speaks to reporters on Monday

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Indonesian police have arrested a Pentecostal minister for allegedly sexually and physically abusing children at an orphanage he and his wife owned near Jakarta.

Chemy Watulingas was charged on Tuesday with negligence, violence and sexual abuse following an investigation into alleged activities at the Samuel’s Home orphanage in Tangerang district, in Java’s Banten province, Jakarta police spokesperson Sr Commander Rikwanto said.

The orphanage was closed on Friday following complaints from nearby residents and donors who received reports of maltreatment from one of the children.

One of the girls at the home, a 13-year-old, said the owner had sexually assaulted her, according to Rikwanto.

"There was sexual intercourse with the child which has been validated by a medical examination,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

“It happened last year at the orphanage,” he added.

Chemy’s wife, Yuni Winata, was also questioned by police but not charged.

The couple started the orphanage in 2000, which was home to 29 children aged between three months and 17 years old.

Rikwanto told ucanews.com early on Tuesday that investigators had conducted medical examinations of 17 children, some of whom claimed they had been beaten and were only fed instant noodles once a day.

The orphanage owner could face a prison term exceeding 15 years if he is found guilty of all the charges.

The couple’s lawyer, Kornelius Kopong, refuted the rape charge and said reports of physical abuse and neglect were being blown out of proportion.

“If there are small issues like twisting the children’s ears or smacking them, it doesn’t aim to hurt but discipline them,” he said.

Arist Merdeka Sirait – chairman of the National Commission for Child Protection or KPA – said the children were not properly treated at the orphanage.

“They [Chemy and Yuni] were allegedly using the orphanage for their own benefit. Money from donors wasn't used to meet the children’s needs but their own,” he told ucanews.com.

Following the orphanage’s closure on Friday, most of the children were placed in the care of various social service agencies, while some others, including two infants, remain with the KPA.

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