More cases unveiled in alleged child abuse

  • 2000-12-07
  • Elina Cerpa
RIGA - An investigation into allegations of child abuse at a boarding school for children with disabilities in the eastern Latvia district of Kraslava has uncovered more cases.

A criminal case has been opened against the Aleksandrova special school's former principal Kazimirs Kutjans who resigned for health reasons soon after charges of child abuse, misappropriation of funds and sexual assault on at least one student were brought to a local newspaper two weeks ago by former and present teachers and students at the school.

Teachers and students allege that Kutjans sexually abused students and held the school in terror during his more than decade-long service there.

Kraslava district police spokesman Andris Upenieks said cases had been opened against Kutjans and teachers Olegs Lisjonoks, Inara Belska and Alla Lulla for allegedly beating children, and also against an 18-year-old student for sexually abusing classmates.

Three teachers have been suspended pending an in-house investigation into child abuse, according to a resolution signed by Zigfrids Grinpauks, head of the National Education Inspectorate.

Investigators, with the help of psychologists, have been questioning students.

"There are two psychologists working at the school and they have said that five children need counseling and have been placed in rehabilitation centers. In their statements the children mentioned rather often the school's principal," said Feina Lomanova of the Children's Rights Protection Center.

President Vaira Vike-Freiberga has expressed concern about the allegations at the school.

"The president thinks that the school hasn't had strict and regular control regarding inspection," spokeswoman Aiva Rozenberga told The Baltic Times Dec. 5. "That kind of school can't be closed [to inspection]."

The Latvian chapter of the international children's rights organization Save the Children helped uncover the alleged abuse and says that schools like Aleksandrova are outdated and should be closed down.

In statements that included one teacher's diary, former school employees and students say Kutjans assaulted and humiliated children, made them work on his nearby farm and sold the school unpasteurized milk to the school at inflated prices.

He is currently undergoing treatment for hypertension and diabetes in Daugavpils.