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Saturday, October 31, 2020

Tamil Nadu: Preacher suspended over complaints of sexual harassment of schoolgirls

The alleged incident took place when the victims were students at a school in Vellore – all 20 or so victims were in the same institution. They are now in their early-twenties.

Written by Arun Janardhanan | Chennai | October 6, 2020 2:14:18 am
The church organisation stated that three more office-bearers have been placed under investigation, as screenshots and online complaints posted by victims mentioned their names as well. (File)

A Chennai-based preacher, who worked as secretary with the English section of publications of the Scripture Union, a Christian group, was suspended from all responsibilities on Monday after a group of women alleged that he had sent them online messages through social media sites to sexually exploit them. The alleged incident took place when the victims were students at a school in Vellore – all 20 or so victims were in the same institution. They are now in their early-twenties.

After allegations surfaced on social media on Sunday, the Scripture Union and the Children Special Service Mission Council of India said in a statement on Monday that the accused, Samuel Jaisunder, was placed under suspension “with immediate effect” following “serious allegations” against him. The statement said: “He is directed not to carry out any Scripture Union related work during the period of suspension. Proper inquiry will be conducted as per rules and regulation of the organisation.” Jaisunder could not be contacted till late evening.

The church organisation stated that three more office-bearers have been placed under investigation, as screenshots and online complaints posted by victims mentioned their names as well.

Jaisunder, according to the victims, sent “inappropriate” messages during an annual vacational Bible school (VBS) event.

According to a source close to one of the victims, the 20 victims faced harassment over a period of 10 years, when they were aged between 12 and 17. The matter has come out now after one of the victims posted on Instagram revealing her experience. A police officer from Vellore said they are yet to receive complaints from the victims, and the police are collecting information based on news reports.

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