MAYILADUTHRAI: A physical education teacher employed at a government-aided school was arrested near Mayiladuthurai on Tuesday after three of the school's alumni lodged complaints of sexual harassment against him.
The accused, 52-year-old S Annadurai, has been working as physical education teacher in the century-old Diwan Bahadur T Rangachariar (DBTR) National Higher Secondary School in Mayiladuthurai for over 20 years. He was detained on June 5 after a 21-year-old woman lodged a complaint with the police stating that the man had sexually abused her when she was a student at the school three years ago. The alumnus alleged that the teacher had touched her and spoken to her inappropriately when she was at the school. She also alleged that Annadurai molested after calling her to his house to fill an application.The woman told police that she was unable to disclose her ordeal earlier due to the trauma caused by the incidents. She gained the confidence to speak up after seeing recent news reports of teachers being arrested for their misconduct at schools.
Police detained and questioned Annadurai at the Mayiladuthurai All Women's Police Station on June 5. A case was also registered under the POCSO Act for the offence allegedly committed in 2018 when the woman was a minor. However, Annadurai was not arrested at the time as at least 30 students, alumni and teachers of the school, gathered at Mayiladuthurai All Women's Police Station after he was detained, claiming that Annadurai was innocent' and being falsely implicated.
However, on Monday, the police received complaints of sexual harassment against Annadurai from two more alumni. The two women reached out to Mayiladuthurai SP N Shreenatha on his last working day in the district before his move to Villupuram. The outgoing SP told The New Indian Express that the two women alleged that they had been similarly abused by Annadurai during training. Their statements were recorded and police arrested Annadurai and remanded him in judicial custody at a sub-jail in Sirkazhi on Tuesday.
The district's new SP G Sugunasingh said, "People can feel free to approach us and complain at the local All Women's Police Station if they are victims of such harassment and abuse. Our personnel are trained to assist people properly and will keep the identity of the complainants confidential."
Meanwhile, the Education Department has initiated departmental proceedings against Annadurai and started an investigation. A Pugazhendhi, Chief Education Officer of integrated Nagapattinam district, said, "A deputy education officer is investigating. We have sought a report from the school's correspondent. We will recommend the correspondent to take disciplinary action against Annadurai, based on the reports. We will also send a report to the district collector."