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Coach molests 4-yr-old at school pool

In a letter addressed to the Bandra police, angry parents complain of sexual improprieties committed on their young wards by male swimming teacher

The 'sexual mischief' committed by a swimming instructor while training minor girls has plunged the pool at St Stanislaus High School in a sea of trouble, with parents dispatching an angry letter of complaint to the Bandra police, with the support of the Bandra Welfare Committee Association.


Touchy matter: Parents have asked why the school's principal, Father
Jude Fernandes (inset), did not hire a female instructor to teach
swimming to the girls who enrolled for the lessons. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar


In an immediate reponse to the matter, the school authorities have sacked the errant instructor and have stopped girls from attending the swimming lessons.

The matter came to light when parents of a four-year-old girl, who was taking lessons in the pool, complained to the school's principal in October, claiming that the instructor had inappropriately touched her as well as other minor girls in the pool. 

The letter also complains about the lack of a basic sanitation system for the pool and the filthy condition of the water. It also alleges that the school, which is using the pool commercially to reap profits, has not bothered to obtain the necessary licence from the BMC.

The complaint states that the sexual improprieties had even been brought to the notice of Father Jude Fernandes, but that no action was taken by him to address the issue. It also asks why no female instructor was stationed in the swimming pool, where minor girls were being given lessons.

The swimming classes were being offered as part of a programme organised by the St Stanislaus Diwali vacation club. The lessons commenced in October, and will culminate this Friday.

The swimming lessons were offered not only to school students, but also to outsiders, who could avail of lessons as guests, by paying a sum of Rs 300.

Copspeak
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone IX) Pratap Dighavkar said, "We get many letters every day, but I can't remember having received any letter about a swimming pool in St Stanislaus School. So I cannot comment on the matter."

Assistant Municipal Commissioner of Bandra H-west Ward Sunil Dhamne said, "I have only recently assumed this post, and will have to find out if St Stanislaus School comes under my jurisdiction. From the legal point of view, every swimming pool needs a BMC licence."

School says
Speaking to MiD DAY, Father Jude Fernandes, principal of St Stanislaus School, claimed that the swimming lessons for female students had been cancelled following the incident. He said, "It is true that a parent complained about such improprieties a while back. We immediately terminated the appointment of the instructor. We also stopped offering swimming lessons for girls.  If and when we resume the lessons, we will definitely appoint a female instructor.

"We returned the fees paid for the lessons by the aggrieved parents. The little girl's mother used to send a maid to chaperone the girl, but claims that when the attendant wasn't looking, the swimming instructor touched her daughter mischievously. I don't know how much truth there is in their claims, but we have sorted the matter out."

Gopal Desai, the staff member in charge of the swimming lessons, confirmed that a complaint had been received. "We have cancelled the coaching classes."

Asked if they had made any plans to address the matter, he added, "If the classes are ever resumed, we will appoint a female instructor."

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