Government officials and police officers were sacked and sentenced to prison terms after their actions contributed to schoolgirls working as prostitutes in central China's Henan Province.
Prostitution rings forced middle school pupils in their teens to provide sexual service at entertainment venues in Henan's Weishi County, authorities said yesterday.
These gangs were busted when their victims reported them.
But now officials and police have been found guilty of malfeasance over the case.
Local officials were found to have illegally approved land use for unlicensed entertainment venues, while police failed to detect during checks that prostitution was taking place, local courts said.
When the case first hit the headlines last year, it was claimed online that young girls were tricked to go to a club and have nude pictures taken.
These were used to blackmail the girls to work as prostitutes, it was claimed.
After the victims raised the alarm, two gangs were busted and five suspects held, police said.
Investigators found a club, opened in 2009, did not have a license and the land registered for the entertainment venue was not allowed for commercial use. County land and planning authorities failed to stop this illegal use, despite issuing fines, said the authorities.
And police officers failed to discover the prostitution operation during routine checks on premises, the courts heard.
The courts ruled that malfeasance by police and officials had a causal connection to the prostitution cases.
Three officials and two police officers were sentenced to jail terms ranging from one to two years, with probation.