The case of Professor Helman Berrío Ramírez, accused of sexually abusing several girls to whom he taught dance classes, taking advantage of the fact that they were public school students, is the latest of several scandals targeted by the Secretary of Education of Bogotá. The case remains unpunished, and the teacher is a fugitive.
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According to a report from the Secretariat, there is a record of 158 disciplinary proceedings open to public servants for the alleged commission of any of the categories of sexual violence against minors, and of these, there are only 10 with a court ruling. The risk is that the cases increase with the total return to face-to-face attendance.
The complaints registered by the entity range from disrespect or abusive sexual act to sexual harassment and even violent carnal access. Since April 2021, the Secretariat has been concerned with purging the database, which at that time was 211. “We managed to speed up the procedural times of each case and in seven months the number of assets has been reduced by 25.1 percent. cent”, said the Secretary of Education, Edna Bonilla Sebá.
After this first stage, the entity says that the work plan was strengthened to optimize care for victims. In October 2021, 7 processes from 2017 were delayed, but as of the permanent monitoring for November, only three remain active, two already with failure. According to the Secretariat, for the periods of 2018, 2019 and 2020, the number of processes has been reduced compared to the October figures, except for 2021, since during the last month complaints and reports of alleged sexual violence have increased. Kennedy has the highest number of cases.
It is evident that the controls that are contemplated in the selection of teachers are failing.
Abusers know how to manipulate their victims, many do it psychologically or take advantage of their vulnerable situation. 94.27 percent of the aggressors are men between 38 and 50 years old, and 94.27 percent are teachers. In the rest there are administrative, auxiliary, coordinators and directors. The majority of victims are women: 87.02 percent.
Berrío, for example, to commit all kinds of abusive acts had a dance foundation in the south of Bogotá as a front, whose activities ranged from rehearsals to public presentations. Everything is documented by the victims’ lawyer, Alexander Rogeriswho spoke with THE TIME.
Berrío told the young women that human bodies had some tantras and that to activate them they had to perform certain acts. The girls were subjected to harassment and today they ask for justice. “He did a lot of bad things to us, he recorded us and then stored that material on hard drives. He also showed us videos of women and abuse of animals, disgusting, and made us bring ice, flowers and other things ”. These young women were abused between 2003 and 2006.
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Child protection experts call for concrete action. “The figures given by the Ministry of Education are very worrying. It is evident that the controls that are contemplated in the selection of teachers are failing and it is necessary for the entity to clarify if with the mere opening of disciplinary processes it has removed these teachers from their positions,” said Yohana Jiménez, defender of the rights of children. She added that it would be inadmissible for a suspected official to be near more children and at the same time prosecution it has lacked commitment to prioritize these cases.
Carolina Pineros, executive director of PaPaz Network, stated that “any situation of sexual violence against children and adolescents will always be unfortunate, more seriously when they are perpetrated by people from the public service.” He is concerned that of these 158 cases, only 10 will fail. “In 2019 there are a good number of reported cases, and this is not the case in 2020 and 2021. The question remains as to whether there were fewer reports in these years or what happened. In recent years there is no failure either. This reinforces the concern we have that during the pandemic, the rights of children and adolescents were seriously affected.”
EL TIEMPO exposed these figures to the District Association of Educators (ADE), who pointed out that until he has an official document of the cases, he prefers not to pronounce himself. This newspaper also spoke with Luisa Fernanda Obando, delegate for citizen security of the Prosecutor’s Office, who said that this year the number of clarifications is historic and is above 27 percent, 17,000 more above the average, on issues of sexual violence. . She added that they work with all the entities that make these behaviors known.
Regarding this report, he pointed out that if there was a complaint in the Prosecutor’s Office, they are surely being investigated. “The Prosecutor’s Office, beyond the investigation, is tied to a prevention program called Futuro Colombia, which seeks to prevent abuse in school settings, especially when 90 percent are already returning to face-to-face attendance, also for that the victims dare to denounce.
Facts not to forget
For almost three years, Hans Wayne Santamaría Garzón, a professor of ethics and social sciences at a school in Suba, sexually abused two of his students. He invited the students to his house and took them to a room where he had video games, movies and accessories from animated series. There he outraged those under 14 years of age, since 2017.
Due to these facts, a prosecutor from the Immediate Reaction Unit (URI) de Usaquén charged him with the crimes of abusive carnal access with a child under 14 years of age and sexual acts with a child under 14 years of age. In April 2020, the teacher was captured at his place of residence by Children and Adolescents personnel of the National Police.
Between 2019 and 2021, Jorge Alonso González, who taught guitar classes in his home to a neighbor under 11 years of age, would have taken advantage of his status as a teacher to sexually abuse her and, in addition, force her to send him nude videos and photographs by mobile. On September 5, the arrest warrant was issued against this man, on a public street in the neighborhood Chozica Heights, from the town of Suba. The Prosecutor’s Office charged him with the crimes of abusive carnal access with a child under 14 years of age, violent carnal access, aggravated sexual acts with a child under 14 years of age and pornography with people under 18 years of age.
This year, a guarantee control judge also imposed a security measure in a prison on Néstor Enrique Montoya Centeno, an English teacher who sexually abused some of his underage students in Soacha, Cundinamarca.
The first case attributed to him occurred in 2017. A 13-year-old boy went to the teacher’s place of residence, and there he would have been induced to drink alcoholic beverages, smoke cigarettes and consume narcotics to, finally, be forced to carry out activities of a type sexual. A prosecutor from the Cundinamarca Section charged him with the crimes of supplying illicit substances, aggravated carnal access with a child under 14 years of age, aggravated sexual acts with a child under 14 years of age, aggravated violent sexual act and aggravated sexual harassment.
Similarly, the prosecution of Leonardo Guevara Díaz was achieved, who, using his capacity as a music teacher at various universities in Bogotá, would have sexually abused several students. According to the investigation, between 2008 and 2019 he approached the victims with the argument that one way to improve singing was with massages and unlocking chakras. This would have gotten some students to go to his house in the Gratamira neighborhood. The abuse was perpetrated in the home. The Prosecutor’s Office associated the cases of 11 victims, all from different universities.
This November 19, servers of the ITC materialized the arrest warrant against the professor, in a residential unit in the Pasadena neighborhood, in the north of Bogotá. Guevara Díaz did not accept the charges, but the judge imposed an insurance measure on him in a prison establishment.
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4 questions to Edna Bonilla Sebá,
Secretary of Education of Bogotá
Is the Prosecutor’s Office acting quickly in these cases that you yourselves denounce?
We have an agreement with the Prosecutor’s Office and we have had more agile responses than in previous years, but we would like to work in a more articulated way with them and that there be more speed with these cases.
How difficult was it to purge the cases and carry out the oldest ones?
A lot, but it was a good decision we made at the District Education Secretariat (SED). We invest resources and personnel. The most important thing was the political decision to prioritize all these cases. We did joint work between the different areas of the entity, we formed an interdisciplinary team that we coordinated directly from the office to be able to give these results and, above all, draw attention. We cannot tolerate abuse. We invite families to help us report, they have the support of the Secretariat.
Are the teachers involved in these cases dismissed from the SED?
No. Due to due process, the SED cannot dismiss them. What we have done is separate them from any contact with minors. We found a new way for them to work while the investigation is ongoing in the Prosecutor’s Office and the judges make a decision in each case.
Is there still fear of children and parents to report?
No form of violence has to be accepted by anyone, they must know that they have the support of the Ministry of Education, and not only in legal terms. We are accompanying them emotionally. That is very important, we have formed a team to accompany them and that they are not afraid, they have the support of the entity and we are going to protect them.
On twitter: @CarolMalaver
DEPUTY EDITOR BOGOTÁ
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What happens in schools? There are 158 processes for sexual violence in Bogotá