|(Photo courtesy afternoonvoice.com)|
An Indian court remanded a Catholic priest in police custody after he was accused of molesting and attempting to rape a female student in the western city of Pune.
Salesian Father Igidius Falcao, 61, appeared before the local court in Pune on Tuesday morning. He is being charged under various criminal sections for outraging the modesty of a woman and attempted rape.
The vice-principal at Don Bosco High School was arrested after a 14-year-old schoolgirl "complained that the priest had misbehaved and attempted to rape her on January 2 in his office on the school premises," deputy police commissioner Manoj Patil said.
The girl told her mother, who lodged a complaint with the police on January 21, citing fear as the reason for not coming forward earlier, Patil said.
According to the complaint, the priest met the girl, a 10th grade student, on January 1 after a prayer meeting and asked her to meet him the next day. When she later met the priest in his office around 1 pm, Fr Falcao allegedly shut the door and molested and tried to rape the victim, who pushed him away.
A school official dismissed the allegations. “All the allegations made against Fr Falcao are false. The institution categorically denies the allegations framed against him,” Salesian Father Anton D’Souza, the manager of Don Bosco Establishment, said in a statement on Tuesday.
“The institution gives the highest priority to the security and care of its students,” he said.
Father D’Souza said Father Falcao was previously the principal of a renowned high school in Mumbai and there have been no complaints against him in the past.
No Church official was able to speak with the accused after police arrested him.
“Only after speaking with him will we know the details,” said Fr Malcolm Sequeira, spokesperson of Poona diocese.
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