Court rejects bail of priest arrested under POCSO

Mumbai: A special court designated under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) has denied bail to a priest charged for sexually assaulting a minor boy.

Offences had been registered in December 2015 against the priest for unnatural sexual intercourse under Sec 377 of the IPC and sections of the POCSO for sexual assault on a 13-year-old boy.

Fifty-five-year-old Father Johnson Lawrence had sought bail stating that he is diabetic and hence at a greater risk of getting infected with Coronavirus. His application said that he has been a priest by profession for 25 years and has deep roots in society. He also mentioned some other health ailments he suffers from. His plea further said that the jail is overcrowded and he has been in custody since his arrest. His advocate also told the court that he had been granted temporary bail earlier too and had surrendered without absconding.

Additional Public Prosecutor Veena Shelar opposed the grant of bail to him and said that the offence is serious in nature and if released, he may threaten the victim and his family and might also abscond. She also pointed out that three previous bail pleas by the man had been rejected.

While rejecting the bail plea, a special judge under the POCSO Act RN Pandhare noted that there are serious offences against Lawrence and that he is a father of the church and during his tenure he had unnatural sex with the victim boy.

Regarding the medical issues, she said that he is in the custody of the jail authority and they are responsible for taking care of him in case of need of any medical aid or emergency.

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