PUNE, (Manasi Saraf), DNA, January 23, 11:40 IST — In a surprise show of solidarity, parents of children studying in Don Bosco School, Yerawada, rallied behind Father Egidius Falcao, the vice principal of National Institute of Open Schooling section, who was arrested for allegedly attempting to rape a 14-year-old girl student.
Over a dozen parents gathered at the school on Tuesday evening to vouch for the priest’s character and voice their protest over his arrest.
On Monday night, Fr Falcao was arrested after the student lodged a complaint with the Yerawada police alleging that the vice-principal attempted to rape her at his office on the school campus on January 2. He has been remanded in police custody. However, parents of many students refuse to believe it.
“The incident is very unfortunate and the allegations must be completely false. I know Father Falcao as a very spiritual person. He never even shakes hands with women after church prayers. I know him for over a decade now,” said parent Neeta Sebastian. Both her children, a son and a daughter are students here.
Another parent Manisha Benjamin said, “My son is studying in NIOS. He has never had any complaint against Father Falco. He is a very good teacher.”
John Joseph Benjamin, whose son is in the junior college run by the Don Bosco institution, said, “My son has been studying in Don Bosco since standard I. Father Falcao is a very respected figure. He would talk to any person with his hands in his pocket. These allegations may be aimed at maligning his reputation.”
Former student of the school Swapnil Bhingardive, who came to school after getting to know of the incident said, “It was very painful news. I have grown up in this school and knew Fr Falcao since the last several years. He is very kind-hearted and soft-spoken. I am confident he will never do such an act.”
Another former student Stephen Tambe said, “The incident is very unfortunate. I cannot believe it as Fr Falcao is a very kind person.”
School authorities too, rallied behind Fr Falcao. Denying the allegations, they said, “The institution categorically denies the allegations, since we give highest priority to the security and care of our students.”
Manager Anton D’Souza said, “The allegations are false. Fr Falcao is a very respected figure. He has served as principal in Mumbai and has an absolutely clean record.”