The MIDC police arrested the 57-year-old trustee and co-founder of a reputed Andheri school yesterday for allegedly sexually assaulting a three-year-old student. The arrest comes days after the cops were pulled up by the Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights and six months after they had filed a case of rape.
- 57-year-old trustee of Andheri school was arrested on Tuesday
- Girl said abuse began around Diwali 2016, continued till March this year
- Girl identified accused from list of photos of school staff
DCP (zone X) Navinchandra Reddy told mid-day, "The accused was arrested on Tuesday morning and produced before a court, which sent him to police custody till November 14." Sources said the accused had moved a petition in HC for being allowed home-cooked food behind bars.
"New evidence found during the investigation led to his arrest," said Reddy, replying in the negative when asked if the teacher accused of being his accomplice was held as well. The teacher has been booked in the case.
As part of the investigation, the police recorded statements of at least 75 people, including students, teachers, members of the school management and employees. Officers had recorded the statement of the accused, a foreign national, after he'd returned from abroad.
A senior officer said, "We also made him take a polygraph last month to see if he would contradict his earlier statements. The report from the Kalina forensic laboratory is awaited. The questions asked in the test were related to the sequence of events as mentioned in the complaint by the victim's parents."
The family's lawyer, S Balakrishnan told mid-day, "It is a matter of shame that the police could arrest the accused only after so long, and that too, after the victim had to bring the matter to the notice of the child rights commission."
"The family had filed a writ petition in the Bombay High Court after the police had failed to arrest the accused. The court, last week, had transferred the case to an ACP-level officer," said a source.
"Meghwadi division ACP Milind Khetle took charge on November 1 and arrested the accused from his Malad home."
Unrest among parents
The arrest has left parents of other students worried and confused, with anxious discussions on what would happen to the school now.
After the case was filed in May, the school had continued to function as usual, but now, said parents, they didn't know what the situation would be. "The school hasn't hidden anything from us with respect to the issue. Authorities had been reiterating that the police were carrying out an investigation and they were cooperating with it. Now, the arrest does add to concerns. We are hopeful that the school issues a statement, so that we know what's going to happen," said a parent.
The victim's mother had told the police that the incident had taken place earlier this year. On May 15, she had noticed her daughter behaving unusually, touching her private parts, after which she had asked her what the matter was and the girl had narrated the ordeal - how her teacher had taken her and a classmate out to play, a man had joined them and touched both of them inappropriately, while the teacher stood watching. The girl had said it had started in Diwali 2016 and gone on till March 2017.
The girl's mother had then opened the school's website and shown her photos of all staff members till she identified the man.
The mother had first tried to speak to the school administration about it; on being rebuffed, she had lodged a complaint on May 18 under IPC section 376 (2) (I) read with sections 4, 6 and 10 of the POSCO Act.
On June 8, the police had questioned the girl with the help of experts, during which she had told them the same she had told her mother and again identified the accused from a list of photos of the school staffers. On June 20, her statement was recorded under section 164 of the CrPC in the presence of a magistrate of the Mazgaon court.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)