Chinese police have arrested a man over allegations of mistreatment of at least 19 former students at a prestigious teaching academy, after a viral article outlined one of the country’s most shocking #MeToo cases in years.
Du Yingzhe, 40, was a well-known Shadow Road teacher, who helps high school students get into the best art and film schools in the country. On Monday, a former student accused Doe of molesting, caring for and raping students, including some underage girls, and a 17-year-old girl who became pregnant.
In a lengthy post on her Weibo account, the former student, Shi Ziyi, said Du had molested her and assigned her sexually explicit writing assignments when she was 17 and was her mentor. She said that he bragged to her that he was the “godfather of the film industry” and that he had sex with hundreds of students over the course of nearly 15 years. Xi also posted the allegations of two other former students to her 1.5 million followers.
By Tuesday, at least 16 other former students, a former classmate and former classmate, accusing Du of harassment and assault, had either come forward or supported Shi’s accusations.
The accusations quickly spread across social media in China, were picked up by state media, and Xi was questioned by police. Haidian police said on Wednesday they had detained Du in response to online complaints on suspicion of violating the law.
Shi said on her social media account that she and her friends had been harassed over her posts, and that her mother had received phone calls asking her to delete the post or take “criminal responsibility”. She said she left school for personal reasons, but will continue to speak.
Tens of millions of people shared or posted comments related to the accusations, and Xi’s name became the fourth highest trending topic on Weibo on Tuesday. Many discussed the case as one of the most egregious to come to light from the Chinese #MeToo movement, which has struggled to bring justice to the victims.
Despite strengthening harassment laws and pledges from leadership to better protect women, feminist groups have been censored or closed down and stigma remains for victims who come out in public. Few cases have been taken to court, and often the offender will sue the victim for damage to her reputation.
Zhou Xiaochuan, a prominent voice of the movement, who unsuccessfully brought her allegations of harassment against a popular TV anchor to court, said the case was shocking for the number of alleged victims in such a small and professional circle, and for the long period of time. .
This is a sexual assault case [allegedly] “It happens under a power relationship,” said Zhou, also known as Xianzi. Therefore, many students will think: ‘If I offend him, I will offend the teachers of the colleges and universities behind him, the president of colleges and universities, and then I will offend the leaders in industry.’
She said Doe may have been detained, but there were questions for the establishment and the entire industry to answer. “Everyone should be responsible for an incident of sexual assault.”
Du and Shadow Road have been contacted for comment but have not responded. In an online post, a senior principal at Shadow Road sought to get the school away from Du.
“Du Yingzhe has nothing to do with Shadow Road for a long time now, I was very disgusted with him as well,” he said. “A lot of people have messaged me about this, I just want to say, keep posting, and get it down.”
According to screenshots of the statements allegedly from his personal social media account, Doe apologized to “people who were harmed,” but also defended some of his behavior as a “controversial yet effective teaching method” in order to “change the fate” of his students.
The statement said that the accusations included “exaggerations and some untrue things.” “[B]”I’m not going to refute it anymore, what I did is what I did and it’s wrong,” she said.
The statement appeared to target the #MeToo movement, saying it was originally intended to stop further harm to vulnerable people, “not to promote hatred, or even abuse and vent anger.”
He said he would cooperate with the police.
Additional reporting by Chi Hui Lin and Xiao Qian Zhou
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