In a major victory for sexual harassment survivors, Loyola College in Chennai has been asked by Women’s Commission to pay the staffer Mary (name changed) to pay compensation amounting to Rs 64.3 lakh. This also covers remuneration for 81 months. As per the commission, the victim had a good track record in service and there was no reason her services should be terminated abruptly the way Loyola College did.
As per reports, the victim faced abuse and sexual harassment from Father Xavier Alphonse SJ, the Director of the Alumni association. She had accused the institute of delaying the due process for almost a decade and had eventually approached the Madras High Court.
In November this year, the woman reached out to Tamil Nadu State Commission for Women. Based on her allegations, an inquiry was conducted. On December 15 after Francis P Xavier, current Rector of Loyola College expressed his inability to respond to summons because of his old age and the risk to exposure of COVID-19, the commission members visited the institute in person.
Sexual harassment charges against Father Xavier Alphonse
According to Mary (name changed), she started facing problems about a decade ago when she was appointed as an administrator for both the Loyola Development Office and the Alumni Association. She had questioned allegedly dubious methods used by Father Xavier Alphonse SJ of siphoning amount close to Rs 1 crore to his personal trust. He was then the Director of the Alumni Association. She had also accused him of misusing scholarship scheme by college.
After she brought these issues to the notice of the college principal, Father Xavier Alphonse’s financial powers were curtailed. In retaliation, he started allegedly harassing her. According to her, the only action the college took was to shift her own department. No further investigation was carried, she said.
In September 2014, the college Rector allegedly asked Mary to stop coming to work and she was told that she will be informed when the accused had ‘moved’ from the college. After he was shifted to another Jesuit college in Trichy, the college allegedly stopped communication with her. While she was assured of compensation as soon as she resumes service, according to her she was never called to rejoin duties.
The college has claimed that Mary has not preferred any complaint to the Internal Complaints Committee or any other authority regarding the sexual harassment allegations.