Court clears pastor of molestation charges


Court clears pastor of molestation charges

Falsely accused by his wife of indecent behaviour with girls, Shantaraju believes she was after his property

A city pastor who was accused by his wife of indecent behaviour with girls has been cleared by the court. The wife also accused him of being cruel to her and their children. The Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate court found that there was no truth in the charges made by the wife, and after more than three years, cleared him of any wrongdoing in its November 22 order. K Shantaraju runs the Children Development Centre in Bethel Church, Siddarthanagar, in Gangammanagudi police limits. The prosecution alleged that Shantaraju had behaved in an indecent manner with girls who were coming to him for tuition. His wife Priyalatha said when she questioned it, Shantaraju was cruel to her and their children, and even threatened their lives. The relatives of Shantaraju were also made accused in the case.

The wife had accused the pastor of sexual abuse of minors, but the CID police found that the allegation of sexual abuse had no truth and the dispute was mainly matrimonial. However, the allegation found mention in the judgment. The judgment said, “It is quite natural that the wife could have developed hatred against her husband and his relatives. This is all the more so when the first accused is suspected to have a relationship with another lady.”

Unwilling to believe the witness, the order says, “The complainant (Priyalatha) appears to have become desperate. To take revenge on her husband and in-laws, she appears to have, in collusion with Praja Vimochana Chaluvali, hatched a conspiracy to file a complaint on imaginary grounds of harassment. She may be nursing a grouse against her husband.”

Acquitting Shantaraju and his relatives of all charges, the court said, “The story of the prosecution appears unnatural and cannot be believed. Glaring omissions and contradictions in the evidence of the prosecution witnesses would suggest that the witnesses are not telling the truth.”

Ordering that Shantaraju and others be given liberty, the court said, “Further the evidence is improbable and unbelievable. It is rather risky to accept blindly the evidence adduced by interested prosecution witnesses and the same is not accepted. The only conclusion that could be arrived at is that the prosecution had failed to establish that the accused persons had committed the alleged offences.”

Speaking to Bangalore Mirror, Shantaraju said, “When the allegations were made, I had told Bangalore Mirror that the allegations were levelled only due to desire for property. The order clearly states that those who made the allegation also wrote to the BBMP to demolish my church and build a hospital over it. It was good that the CID conducted an investigation. They made it clear that all the other allegations were being made solely due to a matrimonial dispute.”

Shantaraju, however, rues that due to the case, the church’s mission of educating poor children suffered. “After the allegations, donors backed out and we could not continue the free education. Most boys and girls went back to work. But by God’s grace, I have been proved innocent. The court order also mentions that there was a conspiracy hatched. I suffered but the bigger suffering was on the children who had to discontinue their studies because of this issue. The church is growing and hopefully the donors will return and we can restart our educational activities.”

http://www.bangaloremirror.com/Bangalore/Crime/Court-clears-pastor-of-molestation-charges/articleshow/45634686.cms

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