A woman’s attempt to take her own life on Saturday revealed a case of sexual harassment and intimidation by a bishop and a pastor of Bengaluru’s Holy Trinity church. Bishop PK Samuel of the Holy Trinity Church has been accused of sexually harassing 27-year-old Hema*, while he and Pastor Vinod Dasan allegedly intimidated her after she refused to back down on six-year-old sexual harassment case she had been fighting against Pastor Vinod.
Hema attempted to kill herself on January 31 following a verbal altercation with Bishop PK Samuel, said DCP East Harsha.
Bishop TK Samuel has been booked under Sections 354 (Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 506 (criminal intimidation), 504, and 34 of the Indian Penal Code, according to DCP East Harsha. Pastor Vinod Dasan has been booked for criminal intimidation.
Back in 2013, Hema filed a complaint at the Kothanur Police Station accusing Vinod of sexual harassment. That case is currently under trial.
Last month, Vinod visited Hema’s mother in Bengaluru and told her to convince Hema to drop the case. He had also informed Hema’s mother that that Bishop PK Samuel wanted to meet Hema and her husband, and counsel her on the case. On January 21, Hema and her husband arrived at Holy Trinity Church near Trinity Circle in Bengaluru, where they met both Samuel and Vinod.
After they spoke, Vinod allegedly said that he wanted to speak to Hema’s husband, leaving Hema alone with Samuel. Samuel allegedly continued to pressurise Hema into withdrawing the case and allegedly offered to pay her Rs 1 crore as well as employment through the Diocese. However, Hema refused. At that point, he allegedly put his hand on her shoulder and misbehaved with her, DCP East Harsha added.
Hema tried to shout for help, but Samuel allegedly told her that he would kill her if she screamed. Soon after, Hema left with her husband.
Following the January 21 incident, Hema tried to file a complaint at the Halasuru Police Station against Samuel and Vinod, but the station did not record her police, a senior police official said.
On January 31 around 1 am, while Hema was at CSI Hospital in Shivajinagar where her ailing mother is a patient, Samuel allegedly came to speak to her again at the hospital. He continued to try and persuade Hema to drop the case against Vinod, and allegedly threatened her life again. She and Samuel began to argue loudly, and Hema – who police believe had been contemplating suicide for a while – took out a bottle of insecticide and drank from it. Samuel called for security and Hema was taken for treatment immediately. She is currently stable and is undergoing treatment at the hospital.
Soon after the incident occurred, the Shivajinagar Police arrived at the hospital. Once Hema’s condition became stable, they took down her statement.
TNM’s attempts to reach the CSI, Karnataka Central Diocese went unanswered.