Church to start probe into sexual assault

SHILLONG: The Congregation of Christian Brothers, a religious catholic in the state, on Saturday said it would launch an internal probe into the allegation of sexual abuse.
On Friday, Mary Therese Kurkalang took to social media #MeToo campaign accusing Brother Francis Gale of Christian Brothers and Brother Muscat of Don Bosco, Laitumkhrah, of sexually abusing her.
“Something has happened. We understand the hurt, the pain and the shame of the victim (Kurkalang). We want to address it,” a senior Brother of the congregation of Christian Brothers told reporters on St Edmund’s campus.
With the #MeToo movement gaining steam across the country, the woman, who does not stay in Meghalaya now, said she felt “encouraged and strengthened” to tell her story. She hoped that others who had suffered similar assault would also speak out.
The woman, who attempted suicide thrice, accused Br Francis Gale and Br Muscat sexually abused her since she was a five-year-old child.
A day after the woman made public her ordeal on Facebook, The Shillong Times tried to contact the Catholic Church for its response but it could not be contacted.
Talking to The Shillong Times, she said it was a long journey for her to come to this point where she could make a public statement about the incidents which happened years ago.
The woman said she decided to express herself with the movement as she felt that she needed to give voice to those who did not have the courage to tell their stories. She added that after her post, many people are calling and texting her and sharing their stories.
When asked if she wanted to file FIR, she answered in negative. Her post on Facebook has been shared 204 times with close to 1000 likes.
Expressing grief at the incident, the senior Brother of the congregation of Christian Brothers said the Society Protection Officer (of the Christian Brothers) for Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults from New Delhi will be visiting Shillong in the coming days and will collect all facts related to the incident.
Moreover, he also admitted that the Congregation was informed of the incident a few years back and an internal inquiry was conducted. Kurkalang, in her social media post, had stated that about five-six years back an internal investigation was conducted within the Christian Brothers organisation to investigate sexual abuse of the school boys who were mostly boarders and she was named as one of the female victims without her prior consent.
Meanwhile, Fr Edmund Gomes, who is the Rector of Don Bosco Technical School, where Muscat had allegedly abused the victim by offering sweets and toffees, refused to comment on the matter.
“I have spoken to the Special Branch people (Meghalaya police) and I will not speak to the media on the matter (sexual abuse),” Gomes told reporters.
However, Kurkalang’s family members distanced themselves from the alleged sexual scandal. “We did not have any prior information that she will do such a thing,” a family member said.
The victim’s eldest sister was visibly annoyed when journalists approached her to seek her comments on her sibling’s social media post. “I have nothing to say on the matter. You go and ask her. Please get out of my sight,” she told media persons. Kurkalang stated that after her first encounter with Br Gale, she told a family member whom she trusted the most but was instead slapped and told never to make up such stories.
(With inputs from UNI)

Get real time updates directly on your device, subscribe now.

Comments are closed.