Bjemina Vice Principal gets 10 years for molestation and attempted rape

The family and child bench sentenced the 39-year old Vice-Principal (VP) Ugyen Wangchuk to 10 years in prison. Ugyen was serving in a charity school in Bjemina, Thimphu. He was initially charged against 8 molestation cases and an attempt to rape charge, which could have led to a minimum of 27 years of imprisonment according to the OAG.

However, the OAG then said that the court will decide on his conviction term as per the evidences submitted.

The family and child bench passed the final judgment on 20 December. As per the judgment, the suspect is sentenced to five years for molesting 8 girl students. He was charged as per the section 204 of Penal Code of Bhutan (PCB) 2004 which states that the offense of child molestation shall be a felony of the fourth degree (3-5 years).

In the case of an attempt to rape a child above 12 years of age, the judgment states that, he has been charged under section 184 of PCB (Amendment) 2011 which states that the offense of rape of a child above the age of 12 years shall be a felony the second degree (9 to 15 years).

However, the bench has sentenced him to five years for the offence based on section 134 (a) of PCB 2004 which states that, the defendant who is guilty of the offense of criminal attempt, solicitation or criminal conspiracy shall be liable to third-degree felony (5 to 9 years) if the offense is of first and second degree felony.

Meanwhile, the judgment also stated that the suspect did not have to pay any compensation as the victims did not have any ‘serious injury’ nor they were really ‘traumatized.’ Moreover, the parents of the victims also did not claim for compensation.

The suspect will serve the term starting from the day he was arrested (6 April) 2018. The judgment also states that the victims are in stable condition and doing well with their studies.

The suspect was arrested on 6 April 2018 after receiving a complaint from one of the victims’ grandfather on 5 April. He was arrested in connection to eight cases of child molestation and an attempt to rape case.

Ugyen Wangchuk was earlier convicted in 2004 and was sentenced for 5 years under Thrimzhung Chenmo when he was a government teacher in a government school. It was in a relation to statutory rape of an underage girl, whereby she gave birth to his child. His act was discovered when he failed to look after the victim and the child, the victim then appealed to the court for ‘soethey.’

While Ugyen Wangchuk was terminated in 2004 by the Education Ministry he was allowed to retain his NIE certificate on the basis of which he got future teaching jobs. The Ministry also did not maintain a long term record on him.

In the Bjemina case the Vice Principal openly molested the girl students of class VI by caressing the young girls, hugging them from behind, holding and massaging their thighs, rubbing his chin on them, kissing them at times, fondling their breasts and even putting his hand in their kira top.

In addition, one of the victims from the group said that the suspect tried to rape her in his office in 2017. She said that, she was called to his office after the school and he tried to sexually assault her but she managed to escape after pulling his hair.

Some of the young class six girls even cried in court while recounting the horrors of what they had been through.

According to the police the victims never shared their experiences to their parents or relatives but the issue came to light after one of the victims paid frequent visits to the hospital though she had no sickness. Upon asking the victim time and again, she confessed to being repeatedly molested by the vice principal.

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