Thirty-seven catholic priests from different parishes in Mysuru district of Karnataka have levelled serious allegations against Bishop KA William, the seventh Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Mysore. The allegations include sexual misconduct, criminal activities and kidnapping.
"We have come to know that there are as many as four women who have raised complaints against the Bishop in the last two-and-a-half years," Melwyn Fernandes, General Secretary of the Association of Concerned Catholics (AOCC) told TNM. AOCC has also alleged that the Bishop has fathered two children.
The main allegation is that the Bishop had a relationship with a woman, and had a child with him. According to AOCC, the child is studying in a school on the outskirts of the city. However, this woman, has not spoken out or corroborated the allegations.
Another woman who has previously worked in the diocese, put out a video statement accusing another priest Leslie Morris of making sexual advances. She has also alleged that Bishop William supported the priest. “I was called to the office after my field work at around 6 pm on the pretext of giving a report of what I had been doing. At that time, he [Leslie Morris] was grazing himself against me lustfully. Later, he directly approached me for sex, and said, ‘only if you compromise with me, you will have a job.’ I decided to quit my job thereafter, in May 2018.”
In the video, she also alleged that her life was in danger. “Some men came to my new workplace in July 2018 and made me accompany them after I got a threat call from the Bishop. The men took me to a car and wiped all the data on my phone. Then they offered to give me money,” she alleged.
Bishop KA William has however denied all these allegations categorically. "The allegations are false and I feel sorry for the accusers, because without even contacting me or trying to know the truth they have published this in the media. We could have avoided this damage by having a discussion," he said.
In a press meet on Wednesday, he said, “Everything said about me and priest Leslie Morris is a complete lie. If you examine this, you will understand it is a concocted story.” “If given to a producer, a film can be made of this, he added.
The accusers however demand that the Bishop should take a paternity test. “If he is not the father of the child, why should he refuse the test? We demand that he take the test in Mumbai as he has too much influence here,” says Joseph Sodder, a lawyer who is part of the case.
A complaint was filed at the Lashkar police station in Mysuru on November 5 by AOCC member Robert Rosario against the Bishop on charges of kidnapping, sexual assault, intimidation, land grabbing, criminal conspiracy, and attempt to murder. The FIR is yet to be filed, and an investigation is ongoing. It is to be noted that Robert has had a case against him previously for spreading communal hatred during the assembly elections in May.
The 37 priests have also written to the Vatican urging the immediate removal of Bishop KA William. The letter states that Bishop William "…has strong connections with the politicians of criminal record, corrupt police officials and corrupt bureaucrats. It is highly worrisome that he has also connections with the underworld."