Priest sexually assaults, threatens 12-year-old boy, receives life imprisonment

SIX YEARS after a priest in a church in Mumbai was convicted of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old boy, a special court sentenced him to life imprisonment on Wednesday.

The 57-year-old priest was convicted of sexual assault with aggravated penetration and sexual harassment under the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offenses Act (POCSO). Special Judge Seema Jadhav also ordered the boy to be compensated by the District Legal Services Authority.

The prosecution led by Special Prosecutor Veena Shelar had told the court that nine witnesses, including the boy and his parents, had testified in the case. She added that the medical evidence corroborated the boy’s testimony. The minor said the assault took place twice in August and November 2015.

The boy had told the court that on November 27, 2015, he and his younger brother were at church when the priest asked him to remove the decorations put on for a program. The younger brother was asked to remove the decorations from the outer door.

The boy alleged that the accused had followed him into the room and sexually assaulted him. He also said that in August 2015 he was similarly assaulted by the priest. He claimed that the accused threatened to be cut to pieces if he did not shut up.

After the incident in November, when the boy arrived home, his mother noticed he was bleeding. When questioned, he told her about the assault. An FIR was then deposited in a police station.

The prosecution last month sought to amend the charges against the priest to include sections 5 (f) and 5 (l) of the POCSO law for sexual assault with aggravated penetration, as he was part of a religious institution. as a responsible priest. and because the assault had taken place more than once.

The court had allowed the plea. On Wednesday, she also found the defendants guilty under those two articles.
While discussing the amount of the penalty, Shelar said the accused knew the boy’s family came from a financially weak background and therefore took advantage of it. She added that the accused was considered the head of a religious institution and that the incident traumatized the boy.

During the trial, the accused, through his lawyers, questioned two defense witnesses, including a receptionist and a member of the church staff, to challenge the boy’s presence at the church on the day of the facts.

The boy’s father had in 2019 sought to include the Archbishop of Mumbai and two bishops as accused in the case for failing to report the commission of a sex offense after being informed. The court had ordered police to investigate the allegations while saying it would be pointless to join them as defendants in the ongoing trial.

The Bombay High Court then granted them redress against the coercive actions until the application to set aside the special court’s order was decided. He remains on hold.


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