Another exampled of Christian filth
Pastor’s wife accuses him of sexual abuse of minor girls
In her police complaint, Priyalatha has charged Shantaraju, pastor of Bethel Church and Bethel Student Centre, with having sex with young girls and getting them to abort
S Shyam Prasad
Posted On Friday, June 17, 2011 at 12:05:26 AM
Pastor Shantaraju with a minor girl whom he is said to have sexually abused
A city pastor has been accused by his own wife of being a paedophile and of misappropriating church funds. The charges against K Shantaraju, the 45-year-old pastor of the Bethel Church and Bethel Student Centre in Siddhartha Nagar, Jalahalli West, are being probed by the police after a complaint was filed by his wife Priyalatha at Gangammanagudi police station on Wednesday.
Priyalatha said she deferred filing a police complaint against her husband all these years because she thought it fit to first raise the issue with his superiors. She also believed she could prevail upon him to mend his ways, but having failed she has now provided the police with photos which show Shantaraju in various poses with an alleged minor girl.
“The children who were brought to the centre for the purpose of education are being used for illegal activities. Minor children are being used for sexual activities in the centre. He has sexual relationships with many girl children. I have witnessed these activities. When questioned, he threatened to kill me and my two children,” Priyalatha says in her complaint.
Priyalatha has been married to Shantaraju for 15 years ago. After the death of her father-in-law Moses, her husband inherited the Bethel Church and Bethel Student Centre and she alleges that her husband has been misusing donations from abroad that the centre and church receives.
Shantaraju, who claimed that he has been separated from his wife for 11 years and is fighting a divorce case, denied all charges. “The whole thing is a plot to gain control over the trust and its properties. We used to receive Rs 2.5 lakh per month to provide for 275 children. She has made these allegations to the donors and donations have stopped in the last few months. She has brainwashed my mother and brother and they are also making false claims against me,” Shantaraju told Bangalore Mirror.
“Our second daughter is just seven years old; now explain that,” said Priyalatha, in a curt response to Shantaraju’s claim that they had been separated for 11 years.
Shantaraju also alleged that the photos were taken in 2005 and that his wife has manipulated them to show him in bad light. “The girl is 21 years old now and not a minor. My wife is trying to cheat the law with old photos. I have been called by the police now and I will show them the real facts. I am a trained pastor and my only aim is to continue the good work of my father in helping poor children,” Shantaraju said. Priyalatha clarified that the photos have been in her possession after she came across an unexposed roll of film two years ago. Suspecting something amiss, she got them developed and printed.
Gangammanagudi police station’s inspector S D Chabbi confirmed the complaint and said that a FIR has already been registered and investigation is on. “I do not want to pass any comments on the issue and we are still investigating the matter.
There has been no arrests made. There are two parties, Shantaraju on the one side, and his wife, mother and brother on the other. The wife has complained to donors and they have stopped funding the organisation. We also came to know that they is a marital dispute between them and they are still fighting a divorce case. We are humans first and do not want to make arrests and then investigate,” Chabbi said.
The couple has two daughters and Priyalatha revealed that they have been sent to Hyderabad for their safety. In her complaint, Priyalatha mentions that she is living in a shed in the compound of the centre along with her mother-in-law Shantamma and brother-in-law Vinay Kumar Mathew.
Priyalatha rubbished her alleged interest in getting hold of church property. “His allegation against me of trying to gain property is the latest to hide his sins. He started having an affair with this girl when she was just 14. She got an abortion at the age of 16. In front of me they have lived together. Of course, she is a major now. Other minor girls were also abused by him and had abortions. Their parents are afraid to come forward for fear of spoiling their lives. My own daughter who is 15 years old now has gone into depression after seeing his affairs with minor girls,” she explained.
This is not the first complaint against Shantaraju. An anonymous letter sent to the Karuna Bal Vikas, an organisation in Chennai that funds the Bethel Student Centre, earlier this year had accused Shantaraju of sexually exploiting minor girls in the centre. This letter also had photos of Shantaraju while on excursions with female students.
Priyalatha’s advocate RLN Murthy said that a complaint has also been given to the city police commissioner’s office. “A pastor should be a model to society. Ordinary people look up to him. The allegations here are of a very serious nature. It also calls for keeping a check on dubious institutions which are using foreign donations for nefarious activities,” Murthy said.
‘Pastor told me to stand guard while he was with a girl’
Following Bangalore Mirror’s Friday exposé , former girl students and community members of Bethel Student Centre and Bethel Church at Jalahalli come out with more shocking details of his behaviour
Posted On Saturday, June 18, 2011 at 12:47:39 AM
Community members gather outside Bethel Church and Student Centre at Jalahalli
The alleged paedophile pastor of Bethel Church and Bethel Student Centre at Jalahalli is on the run. Meanwhile, more young girls have come out with chilling stories of pastor Shantaraju’s sexual perversions. An 18-year-old girl and former student at the centre said, on condition of anonymity, that many a times she had seen the pastor and a minor girl furtively go into the centre’s office room late in the evening and spend a lot of time inside. She also alleged that the pastor would time and again demand sexual favours from other girls.
“It was a year ago. I was here. Uncle (Shantaraju) and the girl went inside his office room. They locked the room. Uncle asked me to stand outside the room and alert him if anyone came. But I told all the older girls who came that the two were inside and I do not know what they were doing,” the visibly scared girl recounted in a tremulous voice to Bangalore Mirror.
She said that the classes went on till 8.30 pm. After dinner the other students would leave but the pastor and the girl, with the attendance register in her hand, would go into the office room. “The room would be locked from inside and she would come out after an hour. We do not know what they did inside. Uncle has also bought her a mobile phone. Even while on picnics we could feel that there was something happening between the two. He would buy her whatever she wanted and they two were always together,” the girl said.
The government has taken the issue seriously and home minister R Ashoka said, “Today morning itself I have directed zonal DCP Revanna to take necessary action. There is no question of allowing the culprit to escape. Several children have become victims of his heinous act and we will not tolerate this. We will arrest him and ensure that justice is done to victims. The case is more serious as the wife herself has complained to the police.”
After Bangalore Mirror’s report on Friday, people of the area and members of the community gathered at Bethel Student Centre and Bethel Church. One of them said: “I used to come to this church. But after getting wind of the kind of things the pastor was doing, I distanced myself from the church months ago. My family no longer comes to this church,” he said.
Another former student at the centre, a 17-year-old girl, said she and other students were aware of what was going on between the pastor and that particular girl but got the shock of their lives when one day the pastor called one of them into his office and tried to molest her.
“After this incident, we just decided to stop coming here. We went home and told our parents that we do not want to study here. We did not tell them any other details,” the girl said.
Vasudeva Sharma, member, State Child Rights Commission, said, “The incident is not only shocking but calls for severe action. The Child Rights Commission can definitely take necessary action in this regard. But if the police have already lodged an FIR and the court already taken up the matter, then as a recommending body we cannot intervene in the matter. However, from the victim’s or children’s point of view we can provide required help like counselling and take up the matter at the policy level for suitable action.”
Yet another girl revealed that the pastor was also in the habit of taking photos of girls on his mobile phone without their knowledge. Then he would allegedly morph these pictures with those of naked girls from porn sites. “There were young boys too who said that he would call them often to his office room and ask them to massage his body,” she said.
Priyalatha, Shantaraju’s wife, who filed a police complaint against her husband on Wednesday, lives in a corner of church compound in a makeshift shack, worse than a hut. “I stay here because after these incidents I opposed him and moved out of the house. But then he spread rumours that I was having a relation with someone else. To prove him wrong I came back.
Today the ACP also spoke to me. He assured me of police protection as I have been threatened by Shantaraju and his two elder sisters,” Priyalatha said.
However, RLN Murthy, Priyalatha’s lawyer, is not happy with the charges filed by the police in the FIR. “The charges filed are under 498(A) and Section 506 of the IPC. These relate to cruelty towards married women and criminal intimidation. These are comparatively minor charges. The more serious charges of adultery, foeticide, breach of trust and faith, misuse of donations to the organisation have been left out. The accused should have been arrested in the first instance when he was called to the station. Now he is gone into hiding. We are hopeful that the police will act swiftly and bring him to book,” Murthy said.
ACP Hanumanthappa confirmed that Shantaraju had gone missing. “He is absconding. We are on the lookout for him and he will be arrested soon.”