On May 13, 2013, Dee McMahon woke up, kissed his girlfriend goodbye, and walked out the door for work. He never returned, and life as he knew it ended.
He was taken to a Chinese police station, and then a detention center where he waited for more than 6 months before being charged with a crime. He was kept locked in a cell at the detention center with little contact with the outside world for over 11 months before having a trial, followed by an appeal 11 months later. Both the trial and appeal were filled with assumptions, omissions, and the denial of the basic human right of due process.
All evidence against Dee was accepted, while all evidence in his support was rejected by the court. With a closed trial and no visits with his family for over 2 years, Dee had no means to tell his own story. He waited more than 2 years in the detention center, before he was moved to the prison where he is today. Finally, Dee has the chance to tell his story.
Dee wants everyone to know the facts of the case surrounding his arrest and conviction in Shanghai, China. What happened to Dee could happen to anybody.
In the Chinese legal system, you are presumed guilty until proven innocent. Dee is in the position of having to disprove the accusations against him, while his accusers never had to show proof. As we discuss in our report, the accusations against Dee of child molestation make no logical sense and are filled with contradictions.
Dee was offered two opportunities to get a sentence reduction. Not only was Dee pressured to implicate his immediate supervisor, the Head of Primary, he is also currently under intense pressure to sign a confession after he was falsely convicted. He has done neither. He has maintained his innocence from the day he was detained through today. Because he refuses to confess, Dee is subject to consequences within the prison, and his requests are often ignored and his basic needs not met. His decision has come with extremely negative consequences, which Dee endures day in and day out.
Regardless of all the testimony in Dee’s favor, all that was needed for him to be convicted was the possibility of Dee’s presence with the accusing children. Chinese law gives children the benefit of the doubt, above all other testimony. Based on this, he was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Click "Learn more" below to read the full report on the case.
Adults’ statements as direct witnesses ignored:
Only one witness was allowed in court for Dee’s defense at the first trial, and no witnesses were allowed at the appeal.
Mary (parent and teacher): She was the only defense witness allowed in court. The verdict described her testimony as “anything but related to the facts of this case” and was entirely dismissed by the court.
Laurent (Head of Primary)
Gen Hua (Chinese assistant teacher)
Helene (Dee’s co-teacher)
Jeannine (support teacher)
Other teachers, all who say they never saw anything inappropriate.
Cleaning staff, all who say they never saw anything inappropriate.
Student direct witnesses ignored: The court did not require all students or families to be interviewed. Making a statement was voluntary. Many parents insisted nothing had happened to their child, and they had no reason to have their child interviewed by the police.
Students in homeroom class ignored: There were 23 students in total.
Witness 1 denied witnessing any abuse.
Witness 2 denied witnessing any abuse.
Witness 3 denied witnessing any abuse.
Witness 4 denied witnessing any abuse.
Witness 5 denied witnessing any abuse.
Witness 6 denied witnessing any abuse.
The other 12 students in the classroom at the time of the alleged molestations never complained of alleged abuse, were never questioned by the police, and never confirmed the alleged accusations.
Students in English as an Additional Language (EAL) class ignored: There were 10 students in total.
Witness 5 denied witnessing any abuse.
Witness 6 denied witnessing any abuse.
Witness 7 denied witnessing any abuse.
Witness 8 denied witnessing any abuse.
The other 3 students in the classroom at the time of the alleged molestations never complained of alleged abuse, were never questioned by the police, and never confirmed the alleged accusations.
Major discrepancies in accusing statements ignored:
Even if most of a child’s statement was proven false, the rest of their testimony was still accepted.
Whenever an accuser’s statement or version of events differed from that of Dee, Gen Hua, Helene, Jeannine, Laurent, other teachers, or other students, the court agreed with the accuser.
When an accuser’s statement is contradicted by a supporting witness, the court ignored the contradictions and only cited what they said in common.
Many of the accusations reference “other children”, yet many of the numerous other children in the class never made a complaint, denied, or never confirmed the accusations allegedly involving them.
Despite wildly contradictory statements, the court said that children only need to say that it was Dee who molested them and that they were present in the classroom. No other details were necessary.
Most children were 6 years old when they made an accusation and statement.
Physical environment and schedule in classroom ignored:
The classroom was a shared space with many adults and children around.
The library corner was not enclosed. This area was relatively small, and a man of Dee’s height and build would be clearly visible when standing there.
The windows were not blocked.
As the Chinese assistant teacher for the class, Gen Hua was in class the great majority of the time. She was only out of the room for 3 minutes at a time in order to take students to the bathroom or to get snack for the class. Because she could not say that she was always in the classroom for every minute of every school day, the court used this as an opportunity to say that Dee was alone with children.
Other teachers such as Helene and Jeannine were present in the classroom at many of the times of alleged abuse.
Individual students were never alone with Dee in the classroom.
It seems impossible that no adults noticed abuse or even inappropriate behavior occurring, considering all the adults present in the classroom, nearby in the hallway, and making unscheduled visits to Dee’s classroom.
Connections between families ignored:
Accuser 1 and Accuser 2 were caught being actually molested by Hector Orjuela in the identical way they described when they accused Dee.
Accuser 4’s allegation was brought about by Casey, a close friend of the parents of Accuser 1 and Accuser 2.
The meeting on Anfu Lu on May 19, 2013 with class parents about the accusations against Dee was never investigated by the police. The accusing parents were upset that the police found out about it. They claimed in court that this meeting had been already planned and was unrelated to their accusations, despite their invitation email clearly mentioning Dee.
A letter from the mother of one of the accusers proved that accusing parents were actively seeking out and pressuring other parents to make accusations.
Blue books documenting parent teacher communication ignored.
Teaching history ignored:
Dee had 9 years of successful experience as a teacher, and 5 years at LFS. He taught hundreds of students, and worked with dozens of parents, teachers, co-teachers, and assistant teachers.
Until Dee was accused of being hugged by children in April 2013, which then escalated to accusations of molestation, Dee had no complaints at LFS.
Dee did not actively hug students. As a Kindergarten teacher, sometimes his students would hug him, and if it became common, he asked them to stop. At this age level, it is common for teachers to be hugged and was not against school policy.
Character evidence ignored:
Evidence of stable relationship and cohabitation ignored, Dee’s longtime girlfriend was not allowed to testify or even attend the trial.
Evidence of a history of normal adult relationships ignored.
Home, computer, phone, and cameras searched and nothing inappropriate found. This is significant because it is the opposite of the pattern of an actual predator.
Dee had no criminal record.
Dee had normal life and social habits.
The court said there was no evidence to substantiate Dee’s normal lifestyle, showing a blatant disregard for the facts.
Despite all this evidence in support of Dee and the questionable evidence against him, the verdict states:
That children are reliable witnesses.
There are no major contradictions in the testimonies, despite abundant evidence to prove otherwise.
That children don’t need to remember dates, times, or any specific details.
That parent testimonies are accepted as evidence, despite being hearsay and often describing different accounts of abuse.
There was no collusion or mutual influence, despite evidence to prove otherwise.
No physical evidence or hard evidence is required for conviction.
All evidence against Dee accepted; all evidence in his support rejected by the court.