Indian Priest Visiting Fla. Panhandle Accused of Sexual Abuse

The Associated Press, carried in Gainesville Sun [Florida]
July 15, 2006

A Roman Catholic priest from India visiting the Florida Panhandle has been arrested on charges of sexual abuse involving a minor, officials said.

Father Vijaya Bhasker of the Diocese of Cuddapah in India was charged Thursday with lewd and lascivious battery against a minor, according to the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee.

Bhasker was assisting Blessed Trinity Parish while visiting friends in Bonifay, diocese officials said.

The diocese prohibited Bhasker from performing any ministry after learning June 26 that an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor had been made against him, according to a statement posted on the diocese Web site.

A background check performed before Bhasker's June 3 arrival in the United States showed no history of inappropriate behavior, diocese officials said.

A Holmes County Jail official said Bhasker was still in custody Saturday and had not posted a $20,000 bond. It was not immediately known if he had an attorney.


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