Mumbai: A Special POCSO Court taking cognisance of the petition filed by a sexual abuse victim’s father has directed the Mumbai Police to investigate accusations into the cover-up by Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Zonal Bishop Dominic Savio and Bishop John Rodrigues of a sexual abuse crime against a minor boy by Fr Lawrence Johnson in 2015.
The minor sexual abuse victim’s father filed a complaint and an FIR was lodged in December 2015 after which Fr Johnson was arrested.
The Special POCSO Court stated in its directive, “Investigation is required to find out when and where the applicant (father), his wife and the victim met with whom and gave what information and whether the said persons, have conducted any inquiry and desire having knowledge did not give information to the police as required Under Section Section19 of POCSO Act.
Under Section 19 of the POSCO Act it is mandated that a sexual offence against a minor by reported to the Special Juvenile Police Unit or the Local Police.
Section 21 of the POCSO Act prescribes a maximum sentence of one-year’s imprisonment if a person in charge of an institution fails to report an offence by a subordinate under his control.
In November 2015, the victim’s father had approached the Cardinal and two Bishops to report the sexual abuse crime committed to his son.
The victim’s father told the Special POCSO Court that Bishop John Rodrigues had conducted an internal inquiry but refused to share the details of the inquiry and neither reported the matter to the local police.
The Special POCSO Court also pulled up the Mumbai police for not investigating the accusations of the cover-up by the senior clergy members of the Catholic Church levelled by the victim’s father.
Cardinal Oswald Gracias is a senior Catholic leader in India and is a representative in the special committee set up by Pope Francis to deal with the menace of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church globally.