A school principal and a government official accused of sexually assaulting six primary school girls in Hainan province will soon be charged with rape, the Southern Metropolis Daily reported yesterday, citing sources with the city's prosecutors.

Police in the city of Wanning had initially focused their investigation on claims of child molestation but later found evidence that the girls may have been raped, the report said.

The latest findings contradict an earlier investigation by authorities in Wanning that said the suspects did not have sexual intercourse with the girls. But the conclusion was disputed by the parents, who said the girls had suffered physical injuries consistent with sexual intercourse.

The new findings have triggered a national outcry. Wanning police explained they had to interview the six girls, aged 12 and 13, at least three times because they had withheld critical information. It took police more than two weeks to conclude the investigation.

The six girls went missing on May 8 when they failed to show up for classes, and were found in a groggy state over the next two days – four in Haikou, the other two in Wanning.

Video surveillance showed that the schoolmaster spent the night with four girls in a hotel in Wanning, police said. The other suspect, an official with the Wanning housing bureau, took the other two girls to a separate resort hotel. The city's prosecutors formally arrested the two men on May 15 on charges of child molestation.

Wanning police also denied online claims that at least six adults were involved in the alleged sexual assaults.

Twelve lawyers will be sent to provide legal aid for the six families, according to the report.

A parent of the one of the girls said the families were informed about the rape charges and expected the suspects to be convicted. "We'd also like to demand compensation," the parent said.

The Legal Daily reported on Friday that the parents of five girls planned to sue both suspects for damages but the parents of one girl declined to join the lawsuit. 

SOURCE: scmp.com
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