After avoiding the notifications of the investigation branch in Tripoli over accusations of sexual harassment, the teacher Samer Mawlawi presented himself for questioning on Monday.
The interrogation was conducted under the supervision of Attorney General Matilda Touma, who then released Mawlawi the same day, reportedly deeming his crime as a “misdemeanor” despite the amount of evidence and students’ testimonies.
Mawlawi was simply released with a residence document and a pledge not to approach the female students who have filed complaints against him.
The way the case was handled has caused public outrage, including reactions from the students and activists.
The Students Association condemned the release of the teacher, stressing the importance of the safety of female students in public schools, and that the harasser should have been held accountable as “a lesson to those who consider public schools a place of harassment of female students.”
The file of this case will now be referred to the Public Prosecution Office for a final decision on whether to pursue the investigation or end it.
Samer Mawlawi, a teacher at the George Sarraf High School in Tripoli, has been accused by female students of sexual harassment last December.
Students were compelled to protest in front of their school for their complaints to be heard, demanding that the teacher be held accountable for his actions of sexual harassment.
The school administration responded by calling the Lebanese Army on the protesting students.
The female students broke the stigma in a courageous stance and insisted that proper measures be taken against the school administration and the principal for ignoring previous complaints against Samer Mawlawi.
The teacher was later arrested by order of the Lebanese Education Minister, Judge Abbas Halabi, and the case was referred to the High Disciplinary Commission and the Juvenile Protection Authority in the Ministry of Justice.
Mawlawi denied the accusations, claiming that “this is an organized campaign against me because I am known and successful… People are saying all those things because they are bored and want something to be entertained with.”
Similarities between this case and that of the sexual harasser Marwan Habib stand out. In both cases, the crimes were not deemed important, the perpetrators were released back into society, and the accused claimed to be the “victims”, targeted for the importance of their persona.