A prominent Christian leader who vowed to clamp down on sexual harassment in Hong Kong’s churches has been removed as the supervisor at three schools operated by the Methodist Church after being accused of sexually harassing a female staff member late last year.
Reverend Lo Lung-kwong, supervisor of secondary and primary schools run by the Hong Kong Methodist Church, was accused of making improper sexual advances towards a member of the teaching staff during a December 2018 meeting at the church’s Wan Chai building.
Lo is also an adjunct professor at Chinese University’s Divinity School of Chung Chi College.
Ming Pao, a Chinese-language newspaper published in Hong Kong, said the veteran Methodist pastor was accused of brushing his hands up and down the teacher’s back, holding her hands, touching her face and hugging her. The victim then filed a sexual harassment claim against the church leader to the principal of her school and suggested reporting it to the police.
When asked about the allegations against Lo, the Methodist Church told the Post that it received a complaint regarding sexual harassment late last year. In response, a committee was set up to look into the matter. It said both the complainant and the accused accepted the arrangement, and wished to keep the contents of the investigation and outcome confidential.
The Education Bureau confirmed to the Post that Methodist School, Fortress Hill Methodist Secondary School and Sha Tin Methodist College had removed Lo as their supervisor. It said it did not receive any complaints of sexual harassment related to the move. The bureau also did not say exactly when it received the notices of personnel change from the schools.
It is unknown which school the teacher was working at. Lo has dismissed the claims, saying he was just being too friendly. “It all happened in the public area and I knew there was CCTV. We are just close, she is like a daughter to me,” Lo was quoted as saying to the investigation panel.
The website of Methodist School listed Lo’s position as “former supervisor”, while all other schools have removed details of him.
According to Ming Pao, during the investigations, the five-member panel examined surveillance camera footage of the incident and agreed that he did try to make sexual advances.
The headmaster originally dismissed the case and insisted on dealing with the matter internally for reasons such as protecting the church and the school’s image, the Ming Pao report said. Education authorities said they had reached out to the schools involved and offered assistance.
In June last year, upon taking up the post of secretary general of the Hong Kong Christian Council, an umbrella body for 21 churches including Anglican and Methodist ones, Lo said putting an end to sexual impropriety by pastors would be one of his “top priorities” in office.
“We need to express sympathy and support the victims, encourage churches to formulate preventive measures and complaint mechanisms … and step up our training of [pastors],” he said during an interview.