The wife who was the headmistress of the school has been accused of slapping the child and threatening her from speaking out.

Sexual abuse representative image that shows a girl in foreground and three men in the backgroundImage for Representation
news Crime Friday, October 23, 2020 - 07:58

On Tuesday, a 10-year-old girl and her mother were standing on the porch of their house when a man passed by. Upon seeing the girl, the man stopped and introduced himself: he was the husband of the headmistress of the government school her child went to. He asked the mother why the 10-year-old had been shifted to a private school. Even as the mother was having this conversation with the 65-year-old man, the girl was apparently trembling.

“The mother asked her why she was worried and then the girl told her that the man had sexually assaulted her multiple times. The mother soon came and filed a complaint with us,” says Nirmala Devi, the inspector at the All Women’s Police Station (AWPS) in Pollachi in Coimbatore.

In a crime that has shocked the district, the police arrested Thangavel and his wife Ayyama on Wednesday. The wife, the police say, was aware of the alleged crime but threatened the girl against reporting it.

According to the mother’s complaint, the sexual assault happened multiple times in March. Thangavel had come to the school to drop off Ayyama and used to interact with a few school students. One day, he allegedly took the girl to a small abandoned building near the school’s main building and assaulted her.

The complaint says that in one instance, the girl ran to the headmistress to complain. But instead of encouraging the girl to lodge a complaint against him, the headmistress has been accused of slapping her and threatening her to not tell anyone about the incident. Thangavel too allegedly threatened the child from speaking to anyone about the assault.

Thangavel has been charged under Section 342 (wrongful constraint) of Indian Penal Code and Section 5(I) of POCSO Act for penetrative sexual assault.

When asked if any other parents have come forward with complaints or if the police suspected predatory behaviour, the inspector claimed that since the school was shut, it would not be possible to follow this line of investigation. They have, however, asked parents to speak up if any other child has had a similar experience. A source in the Child Protection Committee said that getting corroborative witnesses would be vital for the investigation as the crime happened a few months ago, and without forensic evidence, so that the case is not entirely dependent on just the child’s statement.

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