MADURAI: Child Welfare Committee (CWC) is going to seek a report from the Chief Educational Officer(CEO) of the corporation school that did not file a police complaint against the English teacher who allegedly sexually assaulted his student. Based on the news article titled 'Eight months on, minor awaits justice for abuse' in TNIE on March 4, CWC officials have started an enquiry on Monday with the Headmaster of the corporation school.
Parents of a Class XII student were shocked when they found pornographic content on their daughter's phone in July 2020. The suspect, last year, had reportedly created a Whatsapp group with a few girl students, before the Board exams, to allegedly share such content during the lockdown. The teacher had also taken the minor girl to a secluded place and sexually assaulted her on multiple occasions, the girl told her parents. Following this incident, the parents filed a complaint with the School Headmaster on July 28, 2020. The issue was taken up by the CEO of corporation schools, after which an inquiry was initiated the next day. Shortly after, the teacher was transferred to another corporation school on July 30, 2020. Soon after taking charge in the new school, the suspect was suspended on August 4, 2020. The school authorities and the corporation officials neither filed a police complaint, which is mandatory in cases of sexual assault and sexual harassment of minors(Section 7 and 11(iii) of the POCSO Act), nor did they bring it to the knowledge of the CWC.
Speaking to TNIE, CWC members B Pandiaraja and L Shanmugam, who conducted the preliminary enquiry in the school, said that the headmaster said that he had informed the higher officials (CEO) immediately after the complaint was filed. He said that he was unaware that the matter should be taken to the CWC or to the police(According to 'Ignorantia juris non excusat' principle, ignorance of the law is no excuse in a court of law). When the English teacher was contacted by the school authorities, he neither denied nor accepted the allegations but simply asked them to proceed with departmental action. "No proper reason has been cited for transferring and later suspending the teacher," the officials noted.
However, the parents of the student initially in their complaint stated that 11 other students, who were studying with their daughter, could have been sexually harassed by the perpetrator and sought action. But after a couple of days, the complainant withdrew the complaint for unknown reasons stating that 'it would affect the future of their daughter.' Noting the statement of the parents to the school authorities, Pandiaraja said, "There are chances of 'hush money' being paid by the suspect to the parents of the survivor to withdraw the complaint. We will be issuing a notice seeking a report from the CEO on Tuesday and the complaint would also be forwarded to the Commissioner of Police for investigation. If the probe confirms the transaction(of cash) between the two parties to settle the case, an action would be initiated against the suspect as well as the parents." He added that they have urged the school authorities to enquire with other students to find if any other students were sexually harassed by the suspect.