ucanews.com reporter, Pune
Updated: September 21, 2018 01:11 PM GMT
A photo of Father Vincent Pereira, principal of St. Patrick's High School and Junior College, as featured on the school's website. (ucanews.com photo)
A Catholic priest who is the principal of a school has been arrested on charges of molesting a 14-year-old boy in India's western Pune city.
Father Vincent Pereira, head of St. Patrick's High School and Junior College run by the Poona (former name of city) Diocese, was arrested by police on Sept. 19.
Police arrested the 51-year-old priest as he was attempting to travel by bus to Ahmedabad city in Gujarat. The police said he was fleeing to escape arrest after the accuser filed a police complaint on Sept. 15.
"The accused was hiding for almost three days before boarding a private bus to Ahmedabad but a police team tracked him down," Sayaji Gaware, the investigating police officer, told ucanews.com on Sept. 21.
The police complaint accused the priest of twice showing a pornographic video clip from his mobile to an eighth grade student in his office in March.
The complaint also accused Father Pereira of inappropriately touching the boy after showing him the clip.
The school's counselor, who was told about the incident, has also been booked by police for not reporting the incident to police in time.
A court has ordered the priest to remain in police custody until Sept. 23 to help with further investigations, police said.
Bishop Thomas Dabre of Poona told ucanews.com that police have begun an investigation into the case and the “law will take its own course.”
A diocesan source said that not long after the victim’s family complained to school authorities several weeks ago, the priest was moved from the school and placed in a home for the aged.
A social worker, who later learned of the abuse, informed police about it and approached the family, which resulted in the filing of a complaint with police.
Police said that Father Pereira had allegedly committed similar abuse in 2014 when he was the principal of St. Joseph High School, a diocesan co-education school, in Solapur city, Maharashtra. Following an internal inquiry at that time, he was relieved from the post of principal for three years.
Correction: Some information in this article was incorrectly attributed to Bishop Thomas Dabre. A correction was made not long after publishing. Ucanews.com apologises for the error.
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