He is a man who committed horrific crimes against children in two Indian states. Paul Henry Dean, an Australian national, who has sexually abused children over decades in Visakhapatnam as well as Puri, Odisha, was held guilty by a Railway Court in Visakhapatnam on February 21.
The first travesty of justice happened when the case against him in Andhra Pradesh, which was registered in 2001 dragged on for 17 long years.
The police took a long time to identify the victims. It took so long that finally only four out of 12 victims were ready to come and depose before the magistrate.
Clearly, justice was delayed. But was there any justice at all?
TNM has learnt of a bigger travesty. This man, who has been convicted of child sexual abuse, that too of a disabled boy, was given bail on the same day that he was convicted. âHe was convicted on February 21, he got bail the same day from the Railway court,â Inspector from the II town (MR Peta) police station confirmed to TNM.
Take time to digest that: Paul Dean who was found guilty under relevant sections of the Passport Act, Foreigners Act, section 377 (unnatural sex) and 292 (2) (A) (exposing obscenity) of IPC, was awarded just three years imprisonment â and did not spend a single night in jail.
In the 1980s, one of Paul Dean's youngest victims in Titilagarh, Orissa was a hearing and speech impaired boy called Anil Kumar. The teenager used crude sign language to raise the alarm that he too was being abused. But no action was taken, and Anil Kumar hanged himself in July 1985. After the boy's suicide, Paul Dean was forced to move on to Andhra Pradesh.
Here, too, he continued to sexually abuse young boys left in his charge. (A timeline can be found towards the end of the story).
Vidya Reddy of Tulir, a Chennai-based NGO working against child sexual abuse, has been following the case for several years now. She says, Paul Dean getting bail is a travesty of justice.
âBesides sexually abusing children, he has taken many avatars. He has performed surgeries he had no authority to do, perhaps blinding people and hacking their limbs in the process!â she exclaims.
She adds that Paul has not only fled Australia under an Interpol notice, his case has also been discussed in the Australian Parliament: The government had wondered what it could do to prevent its citizens from going abroad and âbehaving in such an abominable way.â
Paul Dean in the centre
"When do you deny bail?â Vidya questions, âYou deny bail when there's a risk the person may take flight. This man has been known to have jumped â literally and figuratively â at the opportunity in the past. He literally jumped off a train once to avoid arrest. He has abused the most vulnerable of children. And they have granted THIS man bail?â
Swagata Raha, a legal researcher at the Centre for Child and the Law in Bengaluru, says that this case is representative of the failure of the criminal justice system. âThe trial was long, drawn out to almost two decades. It is a letdown to survivors who are currently fighting also â is this the kind of verdict they should look forward to?" she asks.
Several people also say that the only reason this case even got to the stage of conviction was because of the interest taken by Special Public Prosecutor Botcha Prameela. Without her constant follow up, Paul Dean wouldnât even have a âguiltyâ tag against his name.
What should India do?
Between 2007 and 2009 Australia sent multiple requests to India to investigate whether Paul Dean is the same man who had a passport in the name of Alan Herbert Rose back in 1976. The Australian Police told the Australian Parliament that India had not replied to even one request. A Child Rights organisation called ChildWise in 2009 requested the Australian government to extradite Paul Dean as they believed the âonly way to bring him to justice is to prosecute him for these crimes in Australia.
Even if Australia wants to try him for any cases pending there, the Indian authorities first need to dispose off with the cases here. The case in Puri has been pending for almost a decade. Will Odisha government ensure speedy trial, or will we simply be allowing Paul Dean to stay on in our country and do what he wishes?
It was mainly based on the testimony of a visually impaired survivor that Paul was convicted in the Vishkapatnam case. The punishment under section 377 of the IPC is 10 years. Paul not only got away with three, but seems to be out and about now, not sparing a thought for acts which have destroyed childhoods, including that of the one person who persisted through this 17-year-long trial.
Who is Paul Dean?
1. He disappeared from Australia, along with $100,000 from the travel company he was chairing, in 1976. He resurfaced in south India, used fake passports and other such documents to move from place to place and manipulate people.
2. From 1980s to 2000s, he masqueraded as a Catholic missionary, a professor, a doctor and more, took on many titles such as âthathaâ (grandfather) and used these appearances to win people over. He worked in a number of charitable organisations like New Hope and the Mary Ellen Gerber Foundation Trust.
3. He started performing surgeries â cataract and even limb amputations â even though he had no qualifications to be a doctor or a surgeon.
4. After one of his victims in Puri committed suicide, he was forced to move to Andhra Pradesh.
5. Showing his benevolent mask to the world, he has used his power to abuse the most disadvantaged and vulnerable children in Visakhapatnam. These children included orphans, those from poor families, kids who had visual, hearing or speech disabilities, those afflicted with leprosy and more.
6. He went back to Odisha. On November 5, 2008, Mary Ellen of the Mary Ellen Gerber Foundation, complained to the Puri police that Paul Dean had been abusing boys at the MEG village. This case is still pending.
(with inputs from Balakrishna Ganeshan)