A local court sentenced a teacher to 508 years and three monts in prison on April 20 on charges of sexually assaulting 10 male school children in the Central Anatolian province of Karaman.

The 54-year-old teacher, identified only by the initials M.B., pleaded not guilty in the April 20 hearing, which took place amid tight security measures.

“I did not do it. Police pressured me saying ‘If you say this [in testimony] you will not be punished.’ So I told them. But I am innocent,” M.B. reportedly said.

“They defamed me. No one filed any complaint against me over my two years at the Ensar Foundation and my three years at KAİMDER. Those children were alone for six months. They had sexual intercourse between themselves. I warned the families but they did not listen to me and filed a complaint,” M.B. said, adding that he “lay alongside the children” during their exam period in order to console them.

He also said he approached the children “as a father.”

“I was raised fatherless and one of the children was raised fatherless too. I simply approached them as a father. I protected this child from his step-father. I even tried to stop giving lessons to the children many times but their families did not allow me to,” M.B. added, saying he typically educated children about nature and animals during lessons.

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“I’m a good teacher. I made the children read books and play. My rights have been violated in this case,” he said.

The Karaman Governor’s Office has banned reporters from attending the trial, while also prohibiting all press briefings, gatherings or rallies in the province.

The 54-year-old teacher, M.B., had been teaching private courses for students in apartments rented by the Karaman branch of the Ensar Foundation and the Karaman Religious Vocational High School (İmam Hatip) Alumni Association (KAİMDER) when reports surfaced of his sexual abuse of male students, sending shockwaves across the country.

The first hearing in M.B.’s trial was closed, with no reporters permitted inside the courtroom.

The Karaman Court of Serious Crimes conducted pre-trial sessions with the victims and recorded their testimonies. The children’s allegations will be posed to M.B., who will participate in the trial through the Audio-Visual Information System (SEGBİS) from Ereğli prison, where he is currently behind bars.

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Meanwhile, the Karaman branch of the Ensar Foundation hung a massive Turkish flag over its sign in order to inhibit reporters from taking pictures.

The governor’s office also took extreme security measures, stopping cars at the entry points to the province and performing identity checks on everyone. A three-kilometer-wide region around the courtroom was also circled with police barriers to prevent entrants. Police teams and water cannon, popularly known as TOMAs, were also dispatched.

The governor’s office prevented all gatherings, press briefings, marches, sit-ins or similar protests inside the province during the trial.

M.B. was arrested on March 13, with a public prosecutor in Karaman demanding 600 years in prison for “sexually abusing a child,” “deprivation of freedom,” “deliberately causing injury” and “encouraging a child to read and view obscene publications.”

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According to the indictment, the victims, whose ages range from 12 to 14, were abused in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. While the suspect admitted sexually abusing four children, he denied forcing the children to watch pornography.

“The children might have seen these kinds of images accidentally on my open computer screen when they entered my room,” said the teacher in the indictment. The children, however, claimed the opposite, with two of them saying the teacher forced them “to watch animal and people porn.” Other victims said they were occasionally taken alone to watch the films, and sometimes with others. The children also stated that the suspect told them about his sexual intercourse with his wife.

The indictment also noted that the teacher told his victims not to relate the abuse to anyone. When the children were asked why they did not make a complaint, they said they were unable to say anything because they were “scared and embarrassed.”

Culled from