Indian Catholic News

Christian Brothers to probe sexual abuse allegation

A woman took to the social media #MeToo campaign, accusing two Catholic brothers of sexually abusing her since she was five.

 
Shillong: 

The Congregation of Christian Brothers, a worldwide religious community within the Catholic Church, on Saturday said an "internal investigation" will be carried out against Brother Francis Gale, who is accused of sexually abusing a tribal Khasi woman in Meghalaya.

"Something has happened. We understand the hurt, the pain and the shame of the victim (Kurkalang). We want to address it," a senior Brother of the Congregation at St. Edmund's campus in Shillong told IANS on the condition that he not be named.

The Society Protection Officer for Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults will come down from New Delhi to Shillong in a day or two and collect all facts related to the incident, he said.

Mary Therese Kurkalang, from the state capital Shillong, on Friday took to the social media #MeToo campaign, accusing two Catholic brothers - Francis Gale and Muscat - of sexually abusing her since she was five.

The Brother quoted above said that the Congregation had earlier carried out an internal investigation, after they came to know of such allegations against Gale.

Mary, who said she had attempted suicide thrice in the past, in her Facebook post named two Catholic brothers "Br Francis Gale of the Christian Brothers and Br Muscat of Don Bosco" for sexually abusing her since she was 5".

Gale, who is now based in West Bengal, had "sexually abused Mary for eight years".

"He (Gale) was a trusted friend of my family and was held in great esteem as a religious man. I was sent to him for tuitions -- I was 5 when he first showed me his '----' and asked me to touch it."

However, Mary's family members distanced themselves from the alleged sexual scandal.

"I have nothing to say on the matter. You go and ask her. Please get out of my sight," Mary's elder sister Zita Kurkalang told journalists.

Mary said that she never got the support of her family members, one of whom instead "slapped" her when she informed them about the sexual abuse committed by Gale.

"I never spoke about it again, the abuse continued all the years till when I turned 12 and started menstruating, I mustered the courage to refuse to meet this man (Gale) or talk to him," she said.

Father Edmund Gomes, who is the Rector of Don Bosco Technical School, where Muscat had abused his victims by giving them sweets and toffees, refused to comment on the matter.

"I have spoken to the Special Branch people (Meghalaya police) and I will not speak to the media on the matter," Gomes said.

Mary alleged in her Facebook post that Muscat would call children to his side of the table and ask "us (children) to choose toffees from his drawers and while we did, he would slide his hands up," she said.

The victim said that she never told anyone about the sexual abuse committed by Muscat because of the larger abuse she faced from Gale.

Mary told IANS over phone on Friday that she had consulted her lawyers to understand the repercussions before she put out her statement on Facebook against the two Catholic brothers.

"I don't know yet what my next steps would be. I have taken the first steps for now and these were not easy," she said.


IANS

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