Times of India
MUMBAI, Mar 31: The Powai police have registered a case of molestation against a priest attached to a convent school at Vidyavihar.
Father Philip Gonsalves (43) of Fatima Convent High School has been accused of "molesting" and "outraging the modesty" of a 16-year-old student at his residence and on the school premises.
Police said, a complaint was registered with the police on February 21. The victim, whose father is employed with the merchant navy, told the police that she had met the priest after failing her class IX exams in 2004. Her mother had approached Gonsalves for help so that she could appear for the SSC exams as an external candidate.
"Gonsavles had explained the procedure and the criteria for the exams to the girl. Later, when she again came to the school for other formalities, Gonsalves befriended her," said DCP J J Naiknavare.
The sources said Gonsalves used to call her up and also sent SMSes from a mobile phone. They used to allegedly chat on the internet. "In August 2004, Gonsalves called the victim to his residence on the school premises where he molested her.
...In another incident, on October 30, 2005, he removed his clothes and exposed his private parts before the girl. On February 15 last year, the girl narrated the incidents to her mother," said Naiknavare.
The girl's mother then lodged a complaint against Gonsalves with the police. A probe was conducted and the report submitted to the police on February 21. An FIR was registered at Powai police station. In the meantime, the school authorities transferred Gonsalves to Bhopal.
"A police team will now leave for Bhopal in search of Gonsalves on Thursday night," said Naiknavare. Gonsalves has been booked under sections 354 (molestation) and 509 (outraging the modesty of a woman) of the Indian Penal Code. Both sections are bailable offences.
Abraham Mathai, general secretary of the All-India Christian Council, said: "Since the case involves a religious leader, the police need to exercise caution and verify all the facts before filing charges."
Lavy D'Costa, former secretary general of the Bombay Catholic Sabha, said: "The case is an old issue and is being raked up by people with vested interests."