November 15, 2008 - 8:33PM
Police in eastern India have arrested an Australian doctor working at an orphanage on suspicion of pedophilia, a police officer said today.
Police identified the accused as Paul Allen, 60, and said he was a volunteer at the Mary-Ellen Gerber (MEG) Children's Village and was being held in custody after being denied bail.
The community houses 85 orphans aged between five and 18 in Puri town, 65 kilometres east of the Orissa state capital, Bhubaneswar.
The international voluntary group, with offices in countries such as Canada, the US and France, opened the Puri facility in 2000 to look after children left destitute or orphaned by the October 1999 supercyclone that devastated the state and killed tens of thousands.
Preliminary inquiries indicated that most of those who were allegedly sexually abused were "innocent boys", Debi Das, a senior police officer, said by telephone from Puri.
Mr Allen's detention followed complaints about his alleged behaviour to MEG foundation authorities who informed the police.
"Following a complaint from the MEG foundation we nabbed Allen from the port town of Viskhapatnam (in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh state) and brought him back to Puri a couple days ago," Mr Das said.
"The charges against him are serious. He was denied bail by the local court on Friday (yesterday) and is being held under judicial custody," he said.
A 2003 law provides for imprisonment of up to 10 years and a fine of 200,000 rupees ($A6707) for those found guilty of paedophilia.
Allen, who has been associated with the orphanage since 2002, was staying on the premises.
Mr Das said Mr Allen fled the Puri facility after he became aware that the police were looking for him.
In recent years, cases of pedophilia have come to light in India - most of them in the western resort state of Goa.
Last year, a Goa court handed 44 year-old Australian national, Warner Wulf Ingo, a 10-year prison sentence after finding him guilty of sodomy, sex with minors, abduction and criminal conspiracy.