So will pastor Jonathan Robinson come to India for trial?

Exclusive Red corner notice stayed but UK citizen wanted for child sexual abuse in India evasive on return for trial
news Monday, November 02, 2015 - 19:33

In April 2011, pastor Jonathan Robinson, a British national, took a 15-year-old inmate of a home run by Grail Trust in Tirunelveli district to Shimla and Delhi.

The boy’s account to a magistrate said that the 65-year-old man sexually abused him. A police complaint was filed by an NGO based out of Bengaluru, a case was filed against Jonathan Robinson, and a red corner notice was issued as he failed to turn up for the trial despite a non-bailable arrest warrant.

Subsequently, the victim and his mother changed their statements and said they had been under pressure to depose against Robinson. But activists believe that the UK citizen should come for trial as the minor's statement in front of a magistrate is still relevant.

On 16 October, the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court stayed the red corner notice against Jonathan Robinson, ‘so that he could come for trial in India’.

So will Jonathan Robinson come to India for trial?

In spite of the HC’s largesse, Jonathan was not ready to give a direct answer.

He was evasive when asked by The News Minute and said, “Your question puts me in a difficult position because any answer I give is likely to generate publicity, which may or may not be helpful. I have therefore referred this to my lawyer.”

Robinson however went on to insinuate that the case in India against him was false.

“The witness on whom the prosecution is relying petitioned to the High Court through an independent lawyer to implead in the application hearing. In his petition, the boy states that he was forcibly removed from school and taken to a government hospital for medical examination. He also states that (certain persons) ‘threatened the petitioner to make some serious allegations of sexual abuse against Mr Robinson". He further states, "There was no act of sexual abuse committed by Mr Jonathan Robinson against the Petitioner as alleged in the complaint through which a criminal case was initiated."

He goes on to say because of the actions of certain people involved in the prosecution he "unnecessarily underwent medical check up and due to that he is suffering both physically and mentally and he is much worried about his future studies and life." (I quote verbatim).”

Christine Beddoe, an activist based out of UK said, "It is so typical of a sex offender to discredit the victim in this way. Robinson is trying to portray himself as the voice of reason, the 'sensible adult' and that he is the real victim.

This method of undermining the credibility of the victim but at the same time trying to suggest everyone else is so unreasonable is a classic paedophile trait. It is deviousness dressed up as the honour."

This is not the first time Jonathan Robinson has hinted that he would not come and face trial in India.

“I understand that it is a principle of any fair legal system that a person is presumed innocent until proved guilty, but in this case this does not seem to apply. Information has been passed from Indian authorities to UK authorities which cannot be substantiated, and which UK authorities seem unable or unwilling to check,” he had emailed journalists in November 2012.

“In Tulir’s experience, we have never seen anyone accused of a sexual offense wanting to come for trial and clearing their name,” says Vidya Reddy of Tulir.

Christine Beddoe also believes that Robisnon may use the judgment that suggests the Indian government to look at castration as a method of punishment, to skip trial in India.

"The recent judgement handed down against Jonathan Robinson citing castration as a solution will make it much harder for India to get these foreign sex offenders back to India to face trial. What we urgently need is improved diplomacy, joint investigations and much closer working relationship between the governments of India and UK to get suspects such as Robinson and Raymond Varley back to India. What we have at the moment is not working.  There is no chance these two men will voluntarily come back to India to help the investigators. The British courts have now ruled Varley to be unfit to be extradited to India because of his alleged dementia, so in both cases the suspects in these serious sexual abuse cases appear to have walked free without being put to trial.  And that is a tragedy for the victims," Beddoe adds. 


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