A special court designated under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act on Wednesday sentenced a 53-year-old priest of a Govandi church to life imprisonment for repeatedly sodomizing a 13-year-old child of his parish in 2015.
Recently, the court had enhanced the charges against the man, who had been a priest for 15 years before his arrest, and added one which dealt with repeated sexual assault on a child when one is in the management of an educational or religious institution. It is under this charge, that the man was sentenced to life imprisonment. Special judge Seema Jadhav also imposed a fine of Rs. 13,000 on the man and recommended the case for compensation from the District Legal Services Authority. He has been in custody in Arthur Road jail since his arrest, his four bail pleas made over the years, rejected.
Apart from the testimony of the victim, another important witness who testified was a church musician in whom the man had confessed about his behaviour, advocate Charmaine Bocarro who assisted prosecutor Veena Shelar, said. The prosecution examined a total of nine witnesses, said Shelar.
As per the police complaint filed by the father of the boy in Nov 2015, the family would go to the church near their Shivaji Nagar home thrice a week and the priest knew them well. The first incident of sexual assault in which the man sodomized his son, took place in August that year, his complaint said, but his son did not reveal anything to them out of fear. The son, who was then studying in Class 7, had fallen ill and had to be admitted in two different hospitals for a couple of days each. The father had also noticed that his behaviour had changed and he had started looking frightened and became quiet. On Nov 27, the family had insisted he accompany them to church and he had gone. That day, as per the father’s complaint, the priest had asked his son and another younger son to wait after a program to remove the decorations used in it. They had waited and then he had sent the younger son out and asked the 13-year-old to take a box to his office.
He had then followed the child to his office where he sexually assaulted him by threatening him when he protested. The father said he had noticed his son was annoyed and when he came home. He was also found to be running a temperature. He then revealed his ordeal to his mother when she took him in confidence and they approached the police.
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