By PRASIT TANGPRASERT
The results of the investigation will today be forwarded to the provincial education committee, chaired by the province’s governor, to set up a disciplinary committee to further investigate and punish the man administratively if he is found guilty.
Ban Patong Thanoen Samakkee School director Nathapop Boonthongtho could also face a criminal charge of taking a minor under 15 away from his or her parent or guardian, which the Bua Yai police and a Provincial Police Region 3-assigned team have said they are investigating. The charge is punishable with imprisonment of between three and 15 years and a fine of Bt6,000 to Bt30,000.
Punishment could also include dismissal from the civil service with or without his pension and other benefits, Nakhon Ratchasima Primary Education Service Area Office 6 deputy director Supapongsa Chantharang said yesterday.
Supapongsa led the fact-finding panel examining the allegation against Nathapop.
He said Nathapop and the schoolgirl, whose name had been withheld due to her age, would testify before the serious disciplinary probe committee.
Neither Nathapop nor the girl have attended the school this week since the scandal broke.
Nathapop was transferred on Tuesday to the education office effective immediately, pending the investigation’s final results, but has not reported for his new duties.
Permanent Secretary for Justice Ministry Thawatchai Thaikhiew, meanwhile, wrote on his personal Facebook page that the school director would probably face criminal charges related to the case.
He cited the charge of statutory rape, which involves engaging in sexual contact with a minor under 15 regardless of the victim’s consent, which is punishable by four to 20 years in jail and a Bt8,000 to Bt40,000 fine. The charge cannot be reduced in a plea agreement.
If the girl’s parents had given consent to an illegal relationship between the two, they could also face up to six months in prison, a fine of as much as Bt60,000 or both for violating the Child Protection Act’s Section 26 (3).
Police have already issued a summons for Nathapop to hear charges of taking a minor under 15 to commit a lewd act at the Bua Yai precinct with a deadline of today. If he fails to appear, police may issue an arrest warrant for him, said Bua Yai superintendant Pol Colonel Kharom Buasod.
Police also would investigate if Nathapop had had sex with the girl before deciding whether to statutory rape charges, he said.