Former head of pro-gov’t Ensar Foundation in Çorum convicted of sexual abuse

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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan giving a speech at the Ensar Foundation which has been the target of child abuse allegations .

Zekai İşler, a teacher and former president of the Çorum branch of the pro-government Ensar Foundation, has been sentenced to 12 years, six months in prison for sexually abusing two female students, the Odatv news portal reported on Friday.

İşler was put in prison after his sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court of Appeals.

The incident reportedly took place in August 2008. Two female students, 16-year-old E.Y. and 15-year-old E.G., filed criminal complaints against İşler claiming that he sexually abused them and other female students who attended various courses at the Ensar Foundation.

İşler’s trial was held at the Çorum 1st High Criminal Court where he was handed down a prison sentence of 12 years, six months. Although İşler’s lawyers appealed the court’s ruling, the Supreme Court of Appeals upheld the local court’s decision, which resulted in the teacher being confined to Çorum Prison.

In March Turkey was shaken by news of a child abuse scandal in the central province of Karaman. As many as 45 boys were allegedly abused by a male teacher in houses operated by the pro-government Ensar Foundation in the province.

Following the eruption of the scandal, many government officials made statements in defense of the Ensar Foundation, describing the incident as an “isolated one.” None of them called on the Ensar Foundation to give an accounting of the incident.

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