WHEATON, Md. (AP/WJLA) - Montgomery County police say a teacher accused of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old student with autism, has fled to Hong Kong to avoid prosecution.
Investigators tell ABC7, Yee Tak Sharon Kui, 25, a former educational assistant at the privately-run Frost School in Wheaton, engaged in illicit sexual contact with the boy. Like many cases, the classroom was the meeting point, but technology kept the relationship alive after school.
According to court documents, Kui and the teen sent text messages and made phone calls on a regular basis, even during school hours. Their secret connection escalated in early November when, on two occasions, Kui allegedly drove to the teen's Silver Spring home and engaged in inappropriate behavior.
During the first encounter, authorities say Kui, "kissed the victim and fondled his penis." During her second visit, the two allegedly had sexual intercourse in his bedroom. Both times the victim's parents were at the Washington DC International Christian Church, where the boy's father is a minister.
"As a human-being you experience shock, rage, fear. This is the kind of situation that kills the faith of individuals and separates people in our society," the victim's father, Ron Harding, said during a media conference held Tuesday afternoon.
Authorities say the victim told his parents about the abuse on Sunday Nov. 10. By Monday Nov. 11, the Frost School and Montgomery County Police were informed, and Kui was fired. On Tuesday Nov. 12, school officials contacted Child Protective Services and detectives served a search warrant at Kui's Rockville townhome. By Wednesday Nov. 13, Kui had purchased an airline ticket and boarded a non-stop flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport to Hong Kong, where police say her brother lives.
"Our victim is a child of special needs. He should have been nurtured and protected by his teacher. Instead his teacher chose to violate that trust. She needs to be held accountable, she needs to be brought back here to Montgomery County to face these charges." said Asst. Chief Russ Hamill with the Montgomery County Police Department.
It's very rare for families of sex abuse victims to speak publicly. The Harding family said they chose to air their plight in case Kui molested other students who are too scared to come forward.
"First and foremost our concern is for our son and our family, but also we're concerned for other potential victims that we believe there may be," Harding added.
The Harding family described their son as a high-functioning, but emotionally limited. The 15-year-old, who ABC7 is not identifying by name, enrolled at the Frost School in June. His younger brother is also a student at the prestigious learning center which serves children with emotional and behavioral disabilities.
"When we drove by the school, he began to literally rip pieces of the door panel off the inside of our car," Harding said. "It's challenging for him because, with autism, he does not display his emotions, but he feels them deeper than most of us."
In a statement released Tuesday evening, officials from the Frost School said that the allegations and charges against Kui are "heartbreaking" and that they took quick action to fire the teacher.
"We fully believe that this very serious and egregious allegation represents an isolated event," the statement reads. "We have taken immediate steps with our staff to reinforce the policies regarding away-from-school communication with students and staff-student boundaries."
ABC7 visited Kui's townhome along the 100 block of Pasture Side Place in Rockville's King Farm development Tuesday. The 25-year-old's neighbors were startled by the news.
"To take advantage of someone like that, if you're 25 you know what you're doing. That's just, yeah that's gross," Mikaela Brower-Freeman, who's considering pursuing an education degree, said.
"I'd day 'hi' and she'd say 'hi' back. She should pay for what she did. That's inhuman, that's really bad," Kingsley Koranteig, another neighbor, remarked.
Montgomery County investigators are working with the U.S. State Department and Chinese government officials to locate and extradite Kui back to American soil. If convicted, Kui, who's facing two counts of third degree sex offense, one count of sex abuse of a minor, and one count of sexual solicitation of a minor, could spend 55 years in prison.