Court convicts teacher of abuse

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014


REGIONAL Trial Court Judge Eric Menchavez has convicted a high school teacher in Lapu-Lapu City of committing an act of lasciviousness for performing oral sex on two of his male students in 1997.

Menchavez, assisting judge of the RTC Branch 27 in Lapu-Lapu City, found Edgardo Potot, a social studies teacher at the Pajo National High School in Lapu-Lapu City, guilty on four counts of violating Republic Act (RA) 7610, or the Anti-Child Abuse Law.

“The testimonial evidence in this case clearly establishes accused's guilt of the crime of child abuse,” read Menchavez's decision.

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Menchavez sentenced Potot to 40 years in jail. The teacher was also ordered to pay a fine totalling P75,000.

Ombudsman

The case stemmed from the child abuse charges that the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas filed against Potot for violating RA 7610, which provides special protection for children against abuse, exploitation and discrimination.

Potot was identified by a 17-year-old student as the one who abused him inside the house of another male teacher, a values education instructor. The first incident happened on July 11, 1997.

Ray (real name withheld), who was then 17, testified that he was asked to enter a room where he was allegedly ordered to undress and cater to his teacher’s sexual wishes.

The teenager claimed he was threatened with a failing grade.

After the incident, he was given P20 and told to go home.

But his ordeal did not stop there.

On Aug. 15 of the same year, Ray and a classmate were allegedly led by Potot to the same house. In the comfort room, the teacher allegedly performed oral sex on his classmate while he was made to watch. The teacher allegedly did the same to him while
his classmate watched.

Working days

The last incident allegedly happened on Aug. 21 and Potot allegedly brought Ray to a lodging house.

All the incidents allegedly happened during working days.

Ray testified that Potot molested him on various dates between July and August 1997.

Potot denied the charges. He said that it was impossible for him to be with the 17-year-old because he was holding classes at the time the incident happened.

There was no second incident either as the day coincided with the school’s periodical exams.

Potot said that on the third date mentioned by Ray, he was attending a seminar.

He submitted photocopies of the daily time records on the dates in question and a certification that he was neither absent nor late during the seminar.

In the decision, Judge Menchavez ruled it would be hard for Ray to admit the sexual abuse he suffered if it were untrue.

“It would be highly improbable for (Ray) against whom no proof of sexual perversity or loose morality has been shown, to fabricate charges,” said Menchavez.

The judge pointed out that the teenager “convincingly and categorically” narrated the sexual advances committed against him.

“His testimony is spontaneous and straightforward that led the court to believe that indeed the incidents of molestations really happened...” the judge held.

The court also noted that there was no evidence that the complainant had ill motive against Potot.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 19, 2014.

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