A woman named two priests of the dominant Catholic Church in Meghalaya on Friday on social media in a #MeToo campaign and alleged she was sexually abused by them many years ago. The 40-year-old woman, who had attempted suicide thrice in the past, has in her Facebook post accused the two priests — Br Francis Gale of the Christian Brothers and Br Muscat of Don Bosco — for sexually abusing her since she was a five-year-old.
The victim, who overcame her suicidal tendency three years ago through counselling, said her poor family background often made the ideal profile of a victim to the sexual predators in the church. She alleged Br Francis Gale started sexually abusing her when she was a five-year-old and her most trusted family member had slapped and rebuked her on hearing her story.
The abuse continued till she turned 12, when she started menstruating. She had then mustered the courage to refuse to meet him as she was afraid she would get pregnant, the woman said in her post.
The accused is now based in West Bengal. Br Muscat, the second priest named by the woman in her post, is a priest of the Don Bosco group and is posted in Shillong. She alleged he would abuse his victims under the pretext of giving them sweets and toffees kept in a huge desk.
“He would call victims to his side of the table (while the accompanying adults are on the other side). While we did (choose toffees from the drawers), he would slide his hands up our thighs,” she said.
She said she did not speak to anyone about the abuse by Br Muscat because of the larger abuse she faced from Br Francis Gale.
“The #MeToo has triggered a lot of distress but it also brings me hope and belief that justice will come,” the victim said in her post. She said, “I do hope that in some small way my story will make perpetrators feel less empowered to abuse with impunity.”
The woman said the reason for her to come and speak up now was to also try and support victims of similar crimes or connect them to counsellors and growing list of supporters.
When contacted, she told PTI that she had spoken to lawyers. “But at the moment coming out and going public has come at a huge cost. All I want is to support and listen to people of their stories.”
The head priest of the Archdiocese could not be contacted for his response to the allegation.