MeToo storm hits Chandigarh St Stephen School

Chandigarh: India’s nascent metoo movement has gained great momentum where many cases have come out and the victims have publicly accused on social media of sexual misconduct. Over a year ago what started as a simple tweet has now grown into a global phenomenon and a symbol of resistance against sexual harassment.

In another incident of MeToo, a former journalist Sanjay Austa has accused St Stephen’s School, Sector 45, founder principal and director Harold Carver of making a pass at him and another student. Delhi-based freelance journalist Sanjay Austa, 42, has come forward and called Carver a “sexual predator”.

However, a similar case was reported against the principal of St Stephen’s School 30 years ago, where he was sentenced to one month’s prison for child abuse. Three boarders at the school’s hostel had accused him of a paedophile and he was put behind the bars. Later, the court acquitted Harold Carver of the child abuse and he was released.

According to reports by HT eight people, including Louis Lopez and Roy Da Silva, principals of the Sector 45 and Togan branches of St Stephen’s; an advocate/parent and a former student spoke to Hindustan Times at Togan on Saturday, calling Carver “a man of immense integrity.” “With the ongoing MeToo movement, someone has come out from nowhere and made these statements with an attempt to malign the director’s reputation,” said Lopez.

Harold Carver in a statement to the press said that “The recent accusations levelled against me by Sanjay Austa are false, baseless and extremely hurtful. In the year 1988, unfortunately, Mr. Pritam Singh with his wife Mrs. Reema Singh had conspired to grab the school from me because I got over four acres of land from the Chandigarh Administration. The school was functioning at the highest web and popularity. They had gone to the extent of tutoring some of the students to involve me in a criminal offence, which was falsely registered against me.”

“The conspiracy failed and I was acquitted of all charges. In the meantime, even the conspirators had gone to the extent of getting me removed from the Principalship against which I had filed a Civil Suit in the Trial Court and other litigations in the High Court. Austa’s article seems to be motivated at the behest of a few people who always tried to defame me and the Institute of learning. I have had an unblemished record and cannot even imagine committing such an act. I have received enough respect and love from students, their family members as well as those who have built this institution. Simply by levelling false and baseless allegations without any evidence, would not make any difference to my character as it was not built in a day and has taken a lifetime to earn.”

“I sanguinely feel that the whole game is to malign the reputation of the school which I have built up over the years with hard and sincere efforts of a dedicated team. Despite what I had to go through, I hold nothing against any of my detractors and wish them the very best in the future.

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