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Opinions of Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

Teacher Atta-Panyin Must Be Prosecuted!!!

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

On May 28, 2011, the rather disturbing story of a sexual predator and his victims appeared on the website of The story was sourced to the Daily Graphic, Ghana’s government-owned flagship newspaper, and was captioned “ADISCO Maths [sic] Teacher Dismissed for Sodomy.”

The caption of the story did not accurately capture the contents of the same, which is rather a pedestrian observation to make of much that passes for Ghanaian journalism these days. For the story was actually about the lurid activities of a male sexual predator who had pretty much established the pet avocation of hopping from one secondary school to another and sexually victimizing his male students. In this particular instance, the predator, whose name was given as Mr. Richard Atta-Panyin, and presumably held a teacher’s certificate or diploma indicating that he was a specialist in the teaching of Mathematics, was described as a married man with three children whose ages were not specified.

If the foregoing description is accurate, then it was also not quite accurate for the anonymous Daily Graphic reporter to describe Mr. Atta-Panyin as “a gay teacher.” The most apt description, at least here in the United States, would be a “bi-sexual” teacher. And the reader had better believe that, truly, there actually exist humans in this world whose sexual preference could be best described as “Eating your cake and having it, too!” And why not, if the subject can get away with it?

What is also more accurate to point out is the glaring fact that Teacher Richard Atta-Panyin was not dismissed from his Mathematics-teaching job at Adisadel College because of his apparent extra-coital preference for sodomy; that, of course, is his personal choice. Rather, he had been dismissed because he had abused his considerable influence as an instructor of young and vulnerable male students by professionally overstepping his bounds to engage in patently unwanted and non-consensual sexual intercourse with these minors and, one presumes, young adults.

Anyway, what follows next is what is even more disturbing about the way and manner in which college-educated Ghanaian criminal suspects are treated. It is almost as if these alleged perpetrators of heinous crimes against humanity were foreign diplomats plying the land on diplomatic passports, and thus totally immune from prosecution. In the case of Mr. Atta-Panyin, we do not only learn that, in fact, he had sodomized at least six male students at Adisadel College, Cape Coast, but even more disturbingly that the perpetrator had also previously sodomized an unspecified number of male students at St. Augustine’s College, another first-tier Ghanaian secondary school located in the same municipality of Cape Coast!

Here comes the problem, and it is simply that Mr. Atta-Panyin was able to conduct his predatory activities for quite a remarkable span of time without penalty, because there appears to be no protective avenue for headmasters and/or principals of secondary schools to share information that may protect their young and vulnerable students from falling victim to sexual predators like Mr. Richard Atta-Panyin. And the latter dismal state of affairs largely explains why the perpetrator/criminal was able to pursue his at once lurid and bizarre pet avocation from one school to another in the same city!

What this means, of course, is the imperative need for the Association of Headmasters/Principals of Secondary Schools – both private and government-assisted – to establish some sort of clearing house where such vital information, such as the criminal backgrounds/profiles of “predator-teachers” like Mr. Atta-Panyin could be immediately or even spontaneously shared. Of course, this would also imply permanently barring sexual predators like Mr. Atta-Panyin, altogether, from the Ghana Education Service, as well as our national system of education in general.

It is also quite disturbingly obvious to learn that, to-date, many Ghanaian educators and professionals, in general, have yet to fully come into knowledge about their bounden civic responsibility to promptly report all incidents of patent criminality to law-enforcement agents and authorities before all else. In other words, rather than making this flagrant act of criminality the primary concern of Mr. Atta-Panyin’s former employer and the victim’s academic authorities, the Cape Coast police ought to have been the first proverbial port of call. And then, having promptly brought the criminal suspect to book, as it were, the other interested parties, namely, the Adisadel College administrators and the parents of the alleged victim, should then have been informed.

Needless to say, if, indeed, Ghana and Ghanaians aim to be among the ranks of the most civilized and advanced democratic cultures, then, of course, this is the best way to go about upholding our civic rights and responsibilities. And with well-schooled criminals like Mr. Atta-Panyin still prowling the streets and school hallways and corridors, it is only a matter of time before such hardened criminal perps resort to murdering their victims. Disciplinary committees are only relevant in cases of minor professional infractions. I hope Ghana’s Minister of Education is paying attention.

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is a Governing Board Member of the Accra-based Danquah Institute (DI) and author of “The Obama Serenades” (, 2011). E-mail: ###