KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 24 — Students from a local varsity who studied under an American theatre don who has been accused of sexual abuse in the US never complained about his conduct, according to officials.
Sunway Education Group said that Rey Buono, who was named in a Boston Global report as having abused at least a dozen underage boys at the prestigious Milton Academy before he came to Asia, came with “good references” and served there for three years.
“He did good work while he was with us and there were no complaints about him. We are very close to our students and there were no complaints from them regarding him,” Sunway Education Group senior executive director Dr Elizabeth Lee told Malay Mail Online.
Buono taught in Sunway University College between 2003 to 2006.
“We had a Rey Buono who worked with us from 2003 to 2006. Background checks showed he did good work for the Singapore Ministry of Education, and he also had very good references from Universiti Putra Malaysia where he came to us from,” she added.
She also stressed that there is no proof that the Rey Buono named in the report was the same Rey Buono that worked with the private university.
Similarly, a Malaysian colleague of the arts educator who has been working here periodically for the past three decades said that she was unaware of allegations that he had molested students back in the US.
Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPac) founder Datuk Faridah Merican told Malay Mail Online that while she has worked before with Rey Buono, she was not aware of his past.
He was reportedly sacked in 1987 by Milton Academy, for having admitted to molesting a student, but no further action was taken and he instead continued his career in Asia, including directing theatre plays at KLPac.
“Yes, I know the man and I have worked with him before. But I am not aware of his past, and these allegations,” Faridah said.
She however stressed that Buono should not be assumed guilty due to the allegations.
“These are allegations, and it is important not to jump the gun on this matter,” she added.
Buono directed plays in Malaysia, Singapore and also Thailand and also taught at several Malaysian universities — both public and private.
One of the colleges that employed him, Taylor’s University College, also said they were unaware of the past allegations against him.
“Reynold Buono was employed as a Senior Lecturer at Taylor’s University from 2011 to 2012. He left Taylor’s University at the end of his contract with us in December 2012,” they said in a statement to Malay Mail Online.
“He was not a registered offender so we weren’t aware of his reported misconduct,” they said.
Malaysia is yet to set up a sex offenders registry despite increasing concerns about sexual offences in Malaysia.
Last year, convicted British paedophile Richard Huckle was revealed to have sexually abused 71 children in Malaysia, aged between six months old to 12 years old.
Malaysia also recently saw the return of convicted rapist Selva Kumar Subbiah, who sexually assaulted dozens of women in Canada and spent 24 years in a Canadian jail before being deported to Malaysia earlier this month.
While police said they would monitor him, no further action could be taken against him due to a lack of a sex offenders registry.
The Home Ministry has said that concerns of privacy is hindering the setting up of the registry.