China’s top court on Friday said it has executed a primary school teacher found guilty of raping or sexually abusing 26 girls.
Li Jishun had committed the crimes between 2011 and 2012 while teaching at a village school in Gansu province.
He preyed on pupils aged 4 to 11 who were “young and timid”, according to a statement by the Supreme People’s Court reported by local media.
It said there have been more than 7,000 child sex abuse cases in recent years and that the trend is on the rise.
Li had raped 21 of his victims and sexually abused the other five in classrooms, dormitories, and the forest surrounding the village near Wushan town.
The statement said that some of his victims had been raped or abused more than once. It made no mention of how he was caught.
But it said that the Gansu court had found him “a grave threat to society” and noted that he had committed the crimes within just one year.
“The Supreme People’s Court thus believes that it was appropriate for Li Jishun to be executed,” it said.
Local media ran the story with caricatures of the man depicting him as a wolf gobbling up children.
His sentencing was met with widespread approval on China’s microblogging platform Weibo, with many expressing shock at the youth of his victims.
“Four years old? I can’t believe it,” said one. “A death sentence is too good for this man,” wrote another commenter.
In a rare disclosure of abuse statistics, the Supreme People’s Court told local media that the courts heard 7,145 cases of child sexual abuse between 2012 and 2014.
The figures showed that the number of cases went up by about 40% during those years.