Chinese police detain teacher in kindergarten abuse inquiry

A child walks with a parent at the kindergarten run by pre-school operator RYB Education Inc being investigated by China's police, in Beijing, China November 24, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee

BEIJING (Reuters) – Beijing police investigating alleged child abuse at a kindergarten run by RYB Education Inc said on Saturday they had detained a teacher, in the latest scandal to hit China’s booming childcare industry.

Police in the Chaoyang district said it will further investigate claims of abuse after China’s official Xinhua news agency reported this week they were checking allegations that children at the nursery were “reportedly sexually molested, pierced by needles and given unidentified pills”.

Chaoyang district police said in an online posting on Saturday they had detained a 22-year-old teacher, surnamed Liu from the Hebei province adjacent to Beijing.

Police have also arrested another person, also surnamed Liu, for allegedly disrupting social order by spreading false information about the alleged kindergarten abuse, it said in a separate posting.

RYB’s New York-listed shares plunged 38.4 percent on Friday as the scandal sparked outrage among parents and the public.

The second woman, 31, and a Beijing native, was arrested on Thursday, police said.

Parents said their children, some as young as three, gave accounts of a naked adult male conducting purported “medical check-ups” on unclothed students, other media said.

RYB provides early education services in China and at the end of June was operating 80 kindergartens and had franchised an additional 175, covering 130 cities and towns in China.

Meanwhile, Beijing city authorities have urged RYB to remove the head of the kindergarten, Xinhua reported.

The Chaoyang district has launched an investigation into all childcare facilities in its area, the report said.

(Reporting by Shu Zhang and Josephine Mason; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Clelia Oziel)

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