Shillong, Oct 23 The Congregation of Christian Brothers in India (CCBI), a worldwide religious community within the Catholic Church, on Tuesday said that appropriate action will be taken against Brother Francis Gale, accused of sexually abusing a tribal Khasi woman in Meghalaya, if he is found guilty.
Mary Therese Kurkalang, from the state capital Shillong, on October 19 took to the social media #MeToo campaign, accusing two Catholic brothers - Francis Gale and Muscat - of sexually abusing her since she was five.
"We are committed to a just and fair hearing to both the complainant and the alleged abuser, through a formal process as laid out in our Protection Policy - Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults," Brother J. Johnson of the Society Protection Officer Professional Ethics Commission, CCBI, said.
In an e-mailed communique, Johnson said, "The policy looks into all cases of abuse, past and present, so as to ascertain with compassion the truth and support the survivor towards achieving a peaceful closure while taking appropriate action against the alleged abuser if found guilty."
Johnson said the Christian Brothers stand in solidarity with and in support of any survivor of sexual abuse.
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. When I turned 12 and started menstruating I did muster the courage to refuse to meet this man (Gale) or talk to him," she 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.