In an exclusive with GoaChronicle Executive Editor Sonakshi Datta, the mother of the 12-year old boy shares her family’s ordeal in the fight for justice for her 12-year old son who was raped and sodomized by a Catholic priest, Fr. Lawrence Johnson in 2015. The Special POCSO Court has sentenced Fr Johnson to rigorous life imprisonment.
The young 12-year old victim had told the police that on November 27, 2015, he had gone to the church in Shivaji Nagar, Dadar, with his brother, and following the prayers, he was called inside by Lawrence on the pretext of keeping a box after which the pastor had closed the door from the inside and sexually assaulted the minor. This exploitation had left the minor bruised and bleeding. The boy had then added that the priest had done a similar deed a few months prior to the incident as well. He had also made a similar statement in front of the magistrate.
The mother of the victim said that at the time when the family had gone to register a case against Lawrence, his supporters had initiated a ‘morcha’ against them and had blamed the victim’s family of spreading rumors against Lawrence for money.
She added how whenever she went to the court, all his supporters made vile comments against her; she stood all alone in the courtroom and the pastor had innumerable allies standing by him, offering him delicacies like biryani.
“Fr Lawrence has been punished now but I had known, right back in 2015 that he would perish when he wronged my son. Lawrence had confessed about sexually exploiting my then 12-year-old son in front of me and my husband, going down on his knees, and had asked us to forgive him stating that such a ‘mistake’ would not be repeated in the future”, she said.
Further, she said that Lawrence had exploited her son thrice and how her now 18-year-old son was still the same 12-year-old child for her as he could not go out in public places, fearing that someone would unleash similar atrocities on him again and always hold her hand for support. The mother then said how her traumatized son had tried committing suicide twice and was still undergoing psychological counseling.
Revealing the obnoxious activities of the church authorities, she stated how the Vice President of the church, after she had informed him of Lawrence’s misdeeds and had asked for justice, had replied, “Let it be, leave it; he is a boy after all”.
She had also taken her son to the Cardinal of the church after his horrible ordeal but all that the Cardinal said was that he was leaving for Rome and would discuss matters after he would return; but to this day, the Cardinal has remained cavalier and never cared to talk to the family or check in on the victim. “The church members continue to harass my family and most probably, would never leave us alone”, she added.
She then revealed how the church members would organize morchas right outside their house and taunt them in marketplaces about their son being raped. The church and the Cardinal never tried to console the family.
“Right from 2015 till now, one person, Brother Jo Soros of the SSVP stood by our side and assisted us through the hard times. SSVP always stands by the poor to help them. On the other hand, the Cardinal kept lying through his teeth saying he helped us and assisted us financially for my son’s treatment”, the boy’s mother added.
She said that even now, people at church literally spat when she and her husband went to the church and pointed fingers at them saying their son was raped but yet, their faith in God was unwavering and would remain so. “I have turned into an immensely strong mother now”, she asserted.
“Come what may, we will not get frightened and I am sure that even the Cardinal would be punished soon”, the mother said.