CHENNAI: Nine students of St George Anglo Indian Higher Secondary School were sexually abused by Patrick Matthews, a 62-year-old UK national who worked as a volunteer in the school between 2003 and 2006, a four-member team of Gloucestershire Constabulary, UK has concluded. The UK team, which arrived in the city for the investigation on June 13, will now present the evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service, UK for initiating criminal proceedings against Matthews who is on bail in that country.
"We have interviewed 14 children and 16 adults. We are convinced that these nine students and former students (of St George School) were sexually abused. We have strong evidence against Matthews," detective inspector Mark Little told TOI. The team will fly back to the UK on Wednesday. Little said this is the first case his specialist child protection team was handling under the Sexual Offences Act, 2003, outside the UK. The Act gives special powers to the state to prosecute its national who commits a sexual offence even outside that country.
In an earlier statement, Little added: "I hope the management of St Georges School and the Boarding Home comes to understand its duties to prevent abuse and immediately report incidents of abuse to the parents and to the authorities when allegations come to light. These responsibilities can be achieved through staff training and by having clear child protection policies in place within organisations working with children."
The investigation obviously has not gone down well with the St George School officials who had, however, promised all assistance in bringing out the truth. "The investigation by the UK police has further traumatised the students. The investigators' intention may have been to punish the accused, but the process has left some of the students they interviewed in a bad shape. I had to organise an excursion to pep them up. One of the boys was weeping even today and refusing to attend class," said school correspondent G K Francis.