Nearly a month after a Catholic Bishop was accused of intimidating a survivor of sexual harassment, the Mysuru police on Friday registered an FIR against him. KA William, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Mysuru has been booked for kidnapping (Section 506), criminal intimidation (Section 563) and outraging the modesty of a woman(354). He is, however, yet to be arrested by the police.
It was on November 5 that a complaint was filed against the Bishop by Robert Rosario, Association of Concerned Catholics (AOCC), a citizen’s group. This came after a video of a woman surfaced in March this year alleging that the Bishop threatened her, after she accused another priest of sexual harassment.
In the video, the woman, who formerly worked in the diocese, alleged that she was harassed by a priest, Leslie Moras, and later was allegedly threatened by the Bishop last year.
“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 Moras] 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,” she alleged.
She further alleged, “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.”
While the victim did not file a police complaint, AOCC chose to take up the matter. However, no FIR has been registered against Leslie Moras.
On November 12, the police met with the victim. She has given a written undertaking to them, stating that she stands by the video which she made which accused the Bishop of various offences.
However, she is yet to give a formal statement to the police. The police said that they will begin questioning the Bishop when the victim makes a statement sworn before a magistrate.
While allegations of the police shielding the Bishop have surfaced, officials said the delay in registering an FIR was because they were giving the victim adequate time to make a statement, and did not want to pressure her.
Speaking to TNM, Robert Rosario, the complainant, alleged, "They don't want to take a case against a powerful person. I had to put pressure on the police by writing to the Commissioner several times before they took the complaint." Incidentally, Robert has a case registered against him for spreading communal hatred during the 2018 Assembly Elections.
Dismissing the allegations, Leslie Moras said on Friday, “Who has made the complaint? The complaint should be made by the victim herself, or it is not valid.”
Bishop William was contacted several times for a statement, but he did not respond. In a press meet earlier this month, the Bishop had denied the allegations levelled against him and Leslie.
The FIR against Bishop William also comes after 37 priests from different parishes wrote a letter to the Vatican seeking his removal.
They accused him of land-grabbing, corruption, and fathering a child, which is taboo for a Catholic priest. The priests also alleged 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."