Three care workers accused of child abuse at a residential child care centre run by Hong Kong charitable organisation Po Leung Kuk have been granted bail.

The women – surnamed Chow Tak-yuen, 33, Ting Oi-man, 28, Lui Shuk-yan, 25 – appeared in front of Principal Magistrate Peter Law at the Eastern Magistrates’ Courts on Wednesday, local media reported.

Eastern Magistrates' Courts
Eastern Magistrates’ Courts. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

Lui was arrested on Tuesday, while Chow and Ting were apprehended back in September but were granted bail. They all worked as child care providers in the “babies section” of the Po Leung Kuk centre in Causeway Bay.

The prosecution asked to adjourn the case as there were more than 50,000 hours of security camera footage and documents to be reviewed, Ming Pao reported. Law adjourned the case to March 29, while granting all defendants a cash bail of $10,000.

They cannot leave Hong Kong and must report to the police once a week. They are also barred from entering the Po Leung Kuk facility and contacting any other employees.

Alleged abuse

The trio stand accused of a total of eight counts of “ill-treatment or neglect by those in charge of [a] child or young person,” involving six children under three years old. The alleged offences happened from August 25 until September 14.

An anonymity order was granted to protect the victims’ identities.

Po Leung Kuk’s residential childcare centre. Photo: Screenshot, via Google Map.

The alleged abuse first came to light during an inspection by the Social Welfare Department in mid-September, when officials found a child being repeatedly pushed onto a play mat by an employee. More incidents of mistreatment were discovered when the department reviewed the centre’s security camera footage.

Po Leung Kuk. Photo: Screenshot, via Google Map.

The defence revealed that Chow and Ting have resigned, according to Ming Pao, while Lui currently works as a clerk at Po Leung Kuk, but will submit her resignation to adhere to her bail conditions.

Hong Chi Pinehill No.2 School

Meanwhile, police on Wednesday said that reports of suspected child abuse at Hong Chi Pinehill No. 2 School, an institution for students with intellectual disabilities, were unsubstantiated. A 48-year-old teacher at the school was arrested for making false reports of abuse after sending anonymous letters and videos of alleged abuses to parents, the Education Bureau and the media.

Reports of alleged child abuse at the special needs school came to light in early October, with teachers being accused of mistreating students by tying their wrists and covering a child’s head with a jacket when they threw a tantrum.

Hong Chi Pinehill No. 2 School
Hong Chi Pinehill No. 2 School in Tai Po. Photo: Hong Chi Pinehill No. 2 School.

The teacher was arrested on Monday on suspicion of accessing a computer with dishonest intent and causing wasteful employment of the police. Laptops, memory sticks, stacks of envelopes and postage stamps were among the evidence collected from her residence and office.

Police said the allegations made against the school and certain teaching staff were “exaggerated and false” after speaking with the parties involved and reviewing school records. The videos that appeared to show physical mistreatment were filmed four to eight years ago, they said, with some filmed secretly by the suspect, who has worked at the school for 10 years.

mo siu hei
Chief Inspector of Police Regional Crime Unit New Territories North Mo Siu-hei (right). Photo: Screenshot, via HK Police.

“The content of the letters targeted the school’s management and specific teaching staff. We do not rule out that someone fabricated the anonymous letters accusing staff of abusing children out of dissatisfaction with their working arrangements,” Chief Inspector Mo Siu-hei said.

Mo said the police strongly condemned acts that abused a mechanism aimed at protecting children for personal motives such as revenge.

Clarification 11/11/2022: An earlier version of this article contained the wrong spelling of Ting Oi-man’s surname as Ding, because it had been translated.

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Almond Li is a Hong Kong-based journalist who previously worked for Reuters and Happs TV as a freelancer, and as a reporter at Hong Kong International Business Channel, Citizen News and Commercial Radio Hong Kong. She earned her Masters in Journalism at the University of Southern California. She has an interest in LGBT+, mental health and environmental issues.