Chinese police have arrested a man for the alleged abuse of at least 19 former students at a famous tutoring academy, following the publication of one of the country's most shocking #MeToo cases in recent years.
The detainee Du Yingzhe, 40, was a well-known tutor at Shadow Road, which assists high school students to get into the country's best art and film schools, reports The Guardian.
On 19 September, Du was accused by a former student of harassing, grooming and raping students, including some who were underage, and a 17-year-old girl who fell pregnant.
In a lengthy post on her Weibo account, a former student, Shi Ziyi, said Du had harassed her and assigned sexually explicit writing tasks when she was 17 and he was her tutor. She said he had bragged to her that he was "the godfather of the film industry" and that he had had sex with hundreds of students over a period of about 15 years. Shi also posted the allegations of two other former students to her 1.5 million followers.
On 20 September, at least 16 other former students, a former colleague and a former classmate had come forward also accusing Du of harassment and assault, or supporting Shi's accusations.
The accusations spread quickly across China's social media, were picked up by state media, and Shi was questioned by police. On Wednesday, Haidian police said they had detained Du in response to the online complaints and on suspicion of violating the law.
Shi said on her social media account she and her friends had been harassed over her post, and that her mother had received phone calls demanding Shi delete the post or be held "criminally responsible". She said she had dropped out of the school for personal reasons, but would continue to speak out.
Tens of millions of people shared or posted comments related to the accusations, and Shi's name become the fourth highest trending topic on Weibo on Tuesday. Many discussed the case as one of the more egregious to come to light from China's #MeToo movement, which has struggled to see justice for victims.
According to screenshots of statements purported to be from his personal social media account, Du apologised "to the people who have been hurt", but also defended some of his behaviour as a "controversial but effective teaching method" to "change the fate" of his students.
The statement said there were "exaggerations and some untrue things" in the accusations. "[B]ut I will no longer refute it, what I did is what I did and it is wrong," it said.
The statement appeared to take aim at the #MeToo movement, saying it was originally intended to stop further harm to vulnerable people, "not to reinforce hatred, or even abuse and vent anger".