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Indian priest accused of sex abuse surrenders to police

Police are also probing whether Bishop Thomas Dabre of Pune tried to cover up Father Vincent Pereira's alleged crime

A photo of Father Vincent Pereira as featured on his former school's website

A photo of Father Vincent Pereira as featured on his former school's website. (UCA News files)

Published: October 25, 2022 11:04 AM GMT

Updated: October 25, 2022 12:21 PM GMT

An Indian Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing a boy has surrendered before the police as they began a probe against Bishop Thomas Dabre of Pune for allegedly attempting to cover up the crime.

Father Vincent Pereira, 55, of Pune in the western state of Maharashtra presented himself before the police on Oct 23, ending his nearly month-long efforts to evade arrest. He is alleged to have abused a 15-year-old boy at his parents’ home on Dec. 4 last year.

Police said the priest had been in hiding ever since they booked him on Sept. 30 under India’s stringent Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

A local court on Oct. 21 granted the priest anticipatory bail that prevented police from arresting him while directing him to cooperate with the investigators.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Namrata Patil told UCA News that the police were “also probing the role of the bishop as his name is there” in the case.

A team of policemen led by a woman officer visited the Bishop’s House last week and Bishop Dabre was summoned to the Kondhwa police station to record his statement the next day.

DCP Patil said a report on the findings would also be submitted to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) as sought by it within four weeks.

Dominic Lobo, a local Catholic activist, had written to the NHRC on Sep. 26 after police appeared to ignore his complaint against the priest.

The legal process of registering a First Information Report (FIR), containing essential information about the alleged crime, and launching investigations were set in motion after Maruti Bhapkar, a social activist, visited the Kondhwa police station.

As stated in the written complaint seen by UCA News, Father Pereira sexually abused the boy while Bishop Dabre and Cardinal Oswald Gracias, the archbishop of Bombay, allegedly did not act against the priest despite complaints from the survivor’s family members.

“After he [Father Pereira] left, the boy, who was terribly afraid, narrated the ordeal to his parents. They approached Bishop Thomas Dabre seeking action against the priest. When no action was taken, the survivor’s family wrote to Cardinal Oswald Gracias in Mumbai seeking action but he too did not take action, which emboldened Father Pereira further,” the FIR has stated.

Senior Police Inspector Sardar Patil of Kondhwa police station said the investigation is on.

That Father Pereira could evade the police for a record 20 days and move the local court for interim bail is a blot on the image of Pune police, Lobo said.

He also expressed surprise that the priest whose past as a sexual predator of minors was known could get bail from a court.

Father Pereira was originally suspended from public ministries after police arrested him in September 2018 for abusing a teenage boy in a diocesan school where he was the principal.

He was released on bail by the Bombay high court in March 2020 after spending 18 months in jail and thereafter lived at the Nava Sadhana Pastoral Centre of the Pune Diocese.

“The police are investigating Bishop Dabre’s role and we will provide them with clinching and irrefutable evidence of his inaction, cover-up and abatement, which will nail him conclusively,” Lobo said.


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3 Comments on this Story
This man was earlier accused of such acts when he was the principal of school in Solapur in the same diocese. He seems to be a serial offender. Also the abetment by Bp Thomas Dabre needs investigation. Abetment or cover up is also a crime.
I agree with Chhotebhai entirely. Actually Bishop Thomas Dabre and Archbishop Oswald Gracias are more responsible than Vincent Pereira himself. Had these two taken the Solapur incidents of peon and child abuse seriously ( both were in the loop and there are documents to prove this ) four innocent children ( incidentally Catholics too ) and two male adults would not have been victims of a known Homosexual and child abuser in 2018 n 2022. These four children are just the recorded ones while there maybe more whose complaints have been kept secret by all the three. Now Cardinal Gracias has been caught on tape trying to cover up the horrendous crimes of William and Franco. So it's most obvious that he was the key player in saving Dabre and Vincent from certain Vatican action. That Oswald ignored several letters of fellow activist Maruti Bhapkar and mine in 2018-19 and the many well intentioned notices of even Justice Michael Saldhana proves his bonafides or rather malafides. His blessing plus cheering the illegal gift of a blank cheque n luxury Honda City to Dabre in the presence of Nuncio speak volumes of his complicity in Dabre's crimes of official loot of common Catholics contributions plus even salaries of staff of Catholic schools including peons, teachers and clerks. That Dabre was forced to return the luxury 17 lakhs car after a complaint with Pune Charity Commissioner is an implied admission of the personal loot of public funds. That he will be forced to return the blank cheque amount is now no more in doubt. Oswald and Dabre being accused in two / three POCSO FIRs ( with more in store ) should make them quit in grace before being shown the door by law and the justice system. The noose is indeed slowly tightening as they will soon realise that wheels of justice grind slowly but surely.
I am happy that UCAN is carrying objective news on the sordid happenings in the Pune Diocese filed by its Pune correspondent - Michael Gonsalves. Being a widely read news portal by Christians and particularly Catholics, UCAN has a pivotal role to play in exposing the shameful rot that set in under Thomas Dabre's reign as Bishop. Despite Dabre and Oswald being fully aware and in the loop on Vincent's serial sexual escapades ( documents available to prove that both knew this from 2013 ) That Dabre and Oswald ignored complaints from a child victim and the dalit peon of the Solapur school is also a matter of record. Not only ignore but threatened the victim's and their families ! Audio proof of this is available where the peon n his family cry their hearts out. Shameful part was that the sister of the peon saying she wanted to hit Dabre with her chappals ! The simple and logical thing for both or any right thinking Superior would have been to recommend Vincent's dismissal from priesthood and least to keep him away from Physical public interaction ( specially minors ) Yet these two responsible Heads posted Vincent as Principal where he dared to rape/ sodomise three students and that too in the most revered premises of The Cathedral and also few feet away from the house that Pune Bishop lives in ! Further complicity n connivance is seen from the very documents of the case. Out of three offences and two known written complaints, only one FIR in respect of one minor was registered. Bishop Dabre acted only when the police were tipped off by an unknown person on police helpline. The parents in this case too were threatened by goon agents of Dabre in the form of Catholic police officers. Imagine Vincent saying that police wanted him to file counter complaint against parents and they would teach them a lesson ! ( Audio proof available ) I can go on and this saga won't end. But to make things short, Oswald and Dabre need to wind up and put in their papers before the long arm of the Law sees them in jail for the rest of their lives. It's better that the community sees and heaves a sigh of relief that an ex- bishop and cardinal sentenced to jail than serving ones. Oswald and Dabre must atleast spare the Community of this grave loss of face.

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