UK-Born Head Of Christian Evangelical Mission Arrested In Odisha For Sexually Assaulting Minor Boy In Shelter Home
Police arrested John Patrick Bridge on the basis of a complaint filed by a former inmate of the shelter.
A 68-year-old UK-born missionary, who runs free shelter homes, boarding schools and daycare centres in Odisha’s Jharsuguda district was arrested on Wednesday on charges of sexually assaulting a minor boy at the home.
John Patrick Bridge, founder of Faith Outreach Odisha, has been sent to jail after his bail plea was rejected by a local court. Police have booked Bridge under the POCSO Act and SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
According to reports in local newspapers, Sambad and Pragativadi, police arrested Bridge on the basis of a complaint filed by a former inmate of a shelter run by Faith Outreach which Bridge founded 25 years ago. The complainant was staying in the shelter in 2015 and was a minor then.
This report in Pragativadi says that Bridge had faced similar charges earlier as well. A citizen of New Zealand had levelled similar charges against Bridge. That complaint was filed through the New Zealand embassy.
Bridge, born in England, arrived in India in 1977 and founded the non-profit Faith Outreach Odisha along with his Tamilian wife.
It started off with an orphanage with just four children and has now grown into a large organisation that runs seven children’s homes with more than 800 inmates, four day care centres with nearly 250 children and a training centre for volunteers.
Bridge and his wife have been converting almost all the children staying in the homes and the day care centres to Christianity. Bridge was granted Indian citizenship in 1992. These children belong to poor tribal families.
A senior police officer has been tasked with conducting a thorough probe.
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