By Jose Kavi
New Delhi: A Catholic priest has been sent to a jail in Rajasthan for allegedly sending an obscene message to a teenage girl student of his school.
Police on April 20 arrested Father Georgish Britto, vice principal of St Anselm School in Alwar. A case was registered against him two days earlier for texting the 15-year-old ninth grader. He was arrested when he went to surrender to the police, Father Edward Oliveira, vicar general of Jaipur diocese, told Matters India on April 23.
The school is managed by the diocese of Jaipur. Alwar is some 160 km northeast of Jaipur, the state capital and the diocesan headquarters.
According to local newspapers, Alwar on April 18 witnessed a “high-voltage drama” when the girl’s parents, accompanied by members of rightwing Hindu groups went to the school demanding action against the vice-principal. The girl’s father also alleged that Father Britto had harassed him for past many days.
Senior police officials reportedly came to the school to pacify the protestors.
Local political leaders, including the legislator, arrived at the school to take stock of the situation. The school principal told cops that he was ignorant about the vice-principal’s activities.
According to the Times of India, the administration called in additional forces to keep the situation under control.
While the protestors argued with the cops; the parents accused the school of shielding their teacher.
Father Oliveira said the girl’s brother beat Father Britto on April 20.
The vicar general said Father Britto, who was ordained hardly a year ago, had counseled the girl’s family to sort out some domestic problems. The girl’s elder brother had also studied in the same school. The girl apparently developed some “infatuation” toward the young priest and used her father’s mobile to message him at night after her father went to sleep, the vicar general explained.
However, the father caught the girl chatting with the priest and complained to the police. Father Britto was arrested under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act of 2012, a stringent law to end abuses of minors.
Father Oliveira said the groups had accused the vice principal of trying to convert the girl and fondling her, besides sending lewd messages.
The vicar general said the junior priest had admitted that he only sent the message to the girl but denied other charges. “He admitted what he had done was imprudent and wrong. What has happened is very sad,” he added.
The school authorities reportedly claimed that the student had never complained about such messages.
Father Oliveira said the accused priest had to remain in jail until May 5. “We can move for bail only after that,” he added.