Brit running shelter for vulnerable kids arrested on sex abuse charges in India

A Brit running a shelter home for vulnerable children in India has been arrested for sexually abusing a minor.

John Patrick Bridge, 68, is charged with abusing a 16-year-old boy who was staying at Faith Outreach children's home in Cox Colony, Jharsuguda.

The abuse is alleged to have taken place on several occasions when the boy, from Kandhamal district in the eastern state of Odisha, was living and studying in the shelter.

He claims Bridge fondled his thigh and genitals in an SUV while the two were driving back from Rayagada district after celebrating Christmas together at the man's home last year.

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A second alleged victim, from Bhabanipur area in Sundargarh district, has also come forward to accuse Bridge of similar sexual abuse while he attended Bible classes at Faith Outreach.

The complaint against Bridge was lodged after an inquiry by New Zealand's Indian Embassy about the misuse of funds given to Faith Outreach by a New Zealand-based funding agency, the Hindustan Times reports.

The issue of alleged sexual abuse then arose during an investigation into the funds, after which police asked complainants to provide official statements.

Jharsuguda Town IIC Savitri Bal says police registered a case under Section 341 of IPC, 10 POCSO Act and SC/ST (PoA) Act and arrested Bridge on Wednesday.

He appeared in court where his plea for bail was rejected, and has since been remanded in judicial custody.

Bridge, who was born in the UK, took Indian citizenship in 1992. He and his wife Delphine started the Faith Outreach centre 25 years ago in order to provide education to youths from local tribes.

It includes a baby care centre for abandoned infants, as well as a children's home providing clothes, education, medical care and food to more than 400 kids from impoverished backgrounds.

Faith Outreach also features a training centre that prepares volunteers to work as professional social workers in their local communities.

The shelter has been closed since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed almost 55,000 Indians to date.

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