A rights activist based in China's Sichuan province has called for a full investigation into alleged sexual assaults on middle-school students in the southwestern city of Chongqing after police placed a school caretaker under criminal detention.
Yang Yaozhou is being held by police in Chongqing's Wushan county on charges of "indecent assault," a police officer confirmed this week.
"He has already been criminally detained," said the officer, who answered the phone on Monday at Wushan's Luoping township. "The charge is indecent assault."
"He [is accused of] touching, but not of taking off clothes or trousers," he said.
Sichuan-based rights activist Liu Feiyue called on police to probe Yang's background further, given the seriousness of the online allegations against him.
"The problem is that there is no rule of law, and so there is not enough respect for, or implementation of, the law," Liu said. "This is a huge problem in China."
"People who commit crimes never really feel the pressure."
According to online posts, dozens of schoolgirls at the Luoping Middle School have complained of sexual assault by Yang over the past 10 years, but the police officer said that only one victim was known to police.
"As far as I know, there is only one [victim]," the officer said. "The incident only just happened."
Rape and molestation
A relative of a student at the school contacted by RFA said the number of victims was "in the tens, at least."
"Some of them were raped, others were molested," she said, adding that the mood was extremely tense among the parents of children at the school.
A teacher who answered the phone at the Luoping Middle School declined to give details of the case.
"The school is taking this matter very, very seriously," the teacher said. "I only know that [Yang] is no longer at the school.... I don't know any of the other details."
Posts to China's popular microblogging services said that Yang had always acted in a polite and courteous manner during his working day, but that actually he was "a pervert."
Yang apparently worked in the school's first aid room, according to another post.
"A lot of the girls who went to the clinic said he was a pervert, but the girls didn't dare to speak up once they had been raped," the post said.
Gansu, Henan rape arrests
The news comes after accusations by eight primary school children in the western province of Gansu accused their teacher, Liu Junhong, of raping them several times in the past 18 months, official media reported.
Liu was fired and formally arrested following the allegations, which were made by his students in Biyan township, who were aged from nine years to 13.
Authorities have now dismissed the head of the county's education bureau and the school principal after Liu's case came to light.
Last month, authorities in the central province of Henan detained a former senior ruling Chinese Communist Party official for allegedly raping more than 10 underage girls, official media reported.
Li Xingong, former deputy director of the general office for the Party committee of Henan's Yongcheng city, is accused of sexually assaulting more than 10 schoolgirls, according to a statement on the municipal government website.
"The local authorities have ordered swift and severe punishment on the suspect in accordance with relevant laws," China's official Xinhua news agency said.
The announcement, which was reported in the English-language Shanghai Daily and the City Express newspapers, comes after widespread anger on China's popular microblogging services over Li's case, which became a focus for popular outrage over official abuses of power.
Reported by Grace Kei Lai-see for RFA's Cantonese service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.