IS Educator Freed After 5 Years in Indonesian Prison

Imagine being falsely convicted of child molestation in Indonesia and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Then, 1 year later, allowed to walk free, only to have the court later reinstate the conviction and return you to prison! Such was the plight of International Educator, Neil Bantleman, who found himself the victim of a wealthy Jakarta International School parent with an evil agenda.

A brief history

In 2014, Neil Bantleman and his teaching aide, Ferdinant Tjiong were unjustly imprisoned for allegedly molesting a student at Jakarta International School, Indonesia. As the case unfolded, however, it became apparent there was little to no substance to the charges. No matter! Lacking concrete evidence the prosecution succeeded in getting a conviction. The sentence: 10 years in prison.

At the time, Neil’s case called into question the integrity of the Indonesian legal system. How was a wealthy, influential parent able to thoroughly manipulate a country’s judicial system and severely impact the lives of innocent people?

Miraculously, In August of 2015, after 1 year in prison, the conviction was overturned. It appeared justice had been served. Neil and Ferdinant were free men; but, not for long. In 2016 Indonesia’s Supreme Court reinstated the conviction and added another year to the sentence. Neil was returned to prison.

In June, 2019, after serving 5 years in prison, Neil was granted clemency by the government of Indonesia. Working behind the scenes to make Neil’s release a reality, the Canadian government, Jakarta International School and Neil’s brother and wife all worked tirelessly. Ferdinant Tjiong, and five school janitors, who also maintained their innocence, have not been granted clemency, though one was released on parole this year after serving half of his sentence.

Welcome home Neil!

A history of the Neil Bantleman Case with ISR Member Comments
♦International Educators Imprisoned on Insufficient Evidence
♦Hidden Agendas in Indonesia
♦INDONESIA, Where International Teachers are imprisoned on insufficient evidence and convicted terrorists are set free for ‘good behavior’
♦JIS Teacher Neil Bantleman Freed from Prison

22 thoughts on “IS Educator Freed After 5 Years in Indonesian Prison

  1. Just a tragic situation for everyone involved. Hopefully, Ferdi will be freed soon?

    What some people forget is what precipitated this event and what I believe motivated this parent to make these false allegations. The shocking news of William Vahey, the former JIS teacher who molested scores of children at several international schools (including JIS) for decades, broke just before these allegations surfaced. Many former JIS administrators came under scrutiny for not sufficiently investigating when some signs were there.

    Although most of these administrators had left JIS by 2014 when news of these events happened, the majority were still working at other places, including Jean Vahey (wife of William and Deputy Director while at JIS), who was working as the Director of ECIS and Geoff Smith (MS Principal while at JIS), who was working as a HS Principal in Ghana. I think it’s no coincidence that the Vahey news was followed quickly by this parent making the false allegations. I believe that she believed more people would “buy” it after it was already proven that there had been a JIS teacher who molested students.


  2. I was working in Myanmar and a student levied allegations of misconduct against me because she failed an exam. I was on a flight out the next day (after the Head of School alerted me) because of what happened in Indonesia. Rich parents in a country with a corrupt judicial system have an alarmingly high level of pull. It is insane that we willing leave a country with the rule of law in order to teach abroad. I got state side and have never looked back! Good riddance to the sham that is International Teaching


  3. I remember this case very well and I remembered praying for Neil – its all one can do. This was such a tragic case and it was horrifying to see how the backward and primitive country of Indonesia abused a foreign teacher. I can only say one thing: countries like these are just saturated with evil and wickedness, that is beyond human understanding! It is shocking. After his case, I had no plans to visit Indonesia and definitely no plans to work there either. I will not trust these ‘stone age’ communities. I feel so sorry for Neil. All I can pray for now, is that he can get out of this hellish country, go back to Canada and move forward with his life.


  4. I remember when this case unfolded. I was working in Singapore at the time and there were staff members in my school who had previously worked with Neil. They all immediately said “there’s no way” and “these are bogus charges”. Poor guy.


  5. This was not only a travesty but also frightening in that it could happen to any expat working in a number of countries. I spent one ill fated year in Khartoum where a teacher was arrested and jailed for calling her Teddy Bear Mohammed and a PE teacher was sent to court on a ‘child abuse’ charge because some spoilt kid had a pretend asthma attack and the mother filed a police complaint against the American teacher. Luckily in both cases the judge was sensible but it could have gone the other way. Be wary of countries with terrible human rights records… you never know when you could be caught up in a revenge against the teacher situation or dislike of foreigners.


    1. Khartoum is Pitsville and anyone who goes there right now is desperate and crazy! Today 8 protestors were shot and that is after signing an agreement with the military……


    2. I was accused of child abuse in Thailand. Long story but all false. I called my embassy and they said leave your apartment tonight; leave everything behind as if you are coming back (it was a Friday). Go and buy a ticket from a bucket shop and leave the country immediately. Here is our cell number; if any one takes your passport at the airport, call us immediately. We will come. No-one did so I escaped. Others from that school had died in car accidents so I knew I wasn’t safe. My embassy was fantastic and completely pragmatic. No one is safe in many countries and your embassy cannot help when you get into their clutches like this. I knew personally of someone it happened to in Italy because the offended parent was a magistrate.


    3. What a horrible experience but you were lucky with your embassy. You should mention the school as a warning for others.


  6. Every ex-pat educator MUST remember some basic rules and realities about working overseas in places other than the UK and most of Europe:

    1) The host country’s laws and rules are NOT your home country’s rules……it is easy to assume that they are similar…not at all true.

    2) Far too many so-called ¨international schools¨ are simply cash cows for private owners and place the parents’ wishes ahead of any other employee needs.

    3) There are many fine parents out there but in some countries or regions, the parent can be a teacher’s worse nightmare.


    1. So true and even worse when the Board/owner’s brats are in the school and demanding special privileges.


  7. While horrible you don’t have to look that hard for people is western countries that have had their lives ruined by false allegations

    If you want to avoid this issue completely you cannot teach anywhere…


    1. Have you ever been to Indonesia?? Let alone an Indonesian prison?? No, being unjustly jailed for 5 years on trumped-up allegations made by someone with money in a foreign country with corruption rife in all it’s ‘systems’ is not the same as dealing with the impact of false allegations in your own country, surrounded by friends and family with a rule of law.
      Until this happened, many international teachers assumed that their school and the fact of being a ‘foreigner’ would protect them. Not any more.


    2. True and foreign embassies e.g. British, Canadian etc. are often less than useless and so are the schools that employ the hapless teachers. You really are on your own.


    3. What a false equivalency! I don’t recall any instances where a court in the UK, Canada, or America convicted someone because the prosecution claimed the defendant was raped using a “blue potion” and a “magic stone”. These people were victims of an 8th century culture and religious sect that is horrible! I will never teach in Indonesia or visit. DANGEROUS


  8. “How was a wealthy, influential parent able to thoroughly manipulate a country’s judicial system and severely impact the lives of innocent people?”

    From my experience? With ease.

    Wealth and status are everything in many Asian nations – the governments themselves are usually built on this. Who you know, and who you piss off, can impact on your life in a big way in some countries.

    I would never advocate for NOT teaching in these countries under these conditions, as they are beautiful countries with wonderful people, but be aware and not surprised when things sometimes go wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I cannot understand why you would NOTvadvocate for avoiding such working environments. Don’t you believe in any kind of solidarity among educators. After reading this, I mentally crossed Indonesia off even for holidaying!


    2. If you are going to avoid all places where bad things happen to good people….your world is going to shrink awfully quick. It was a terrible incident, but don’t forget the 99.99% teachers who have wonderful experiences in Indonesia (as I did).


  9. An absolute travesty, an unbelievably good educator and a couple who deserved so much better. Best wishes to you both, Neil and Tracy. My heart goes out to those still suffering due to the lies told by these people.

    Liked by 1 person

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