Former India editor acquitted of rape charges after 8-year legal battle
New Delhi, May 21 (EFE).- An Indian court on Friday cleared a former editor of rape accusations that he raped a colleague in a 2013 case that spotlighted the safety of women in their workplaces.
Tarun Tejpal, 58, fought charges that he assaulted an unnamed victim in an elevator at an event in the western state of Goa in November 2013.
The editor, who founded Tehelka magazine in 2000 that conducted several sting operations exposing corruption and abuse of power in government and high offices, had all along denied the accusations allegations against him.
“In November 2013, I was falsely accused of a sexual assault by a colleague. Today, the court in Goa has honorably acquitted me,” he said in a brief statement on Friday.
Tejpal requested that “my family’s privacy be respected as we try and reclaim our broken lives.”
“The past seven-and-half years have been traumatic for my family as we have dealt with the catastrophic fallout of these false allegations on every aspect of our personal, professional and public lives,” he said in the statement that his daughter read out at the court premises.
He said his family had felt the “boot of the state” and expressed “profound respect” for the court’s “rigorous, impartial and fair trial and for its thorough examination of CCTV footage and other empirical material on record.”
Tejpal spent seven months in jail in the case before he was set free on bail.
The case dates back to November 2013 when a colleague alleged that he raped her in a hotel elevator during ThinkFest event, a cultural festival in the coastal state.
Among the witnesses in the case was American actor Robert De Niro, who participated in the festival.
In his reply to the prosecution, the actor confirmed that the woman and Tejpal were present at the event.
The complaint against Tejpal came against a backdrop of a pan-India outrage after a woman was gang-raped and tortured to death in December 2012 on a moving bus in New Delhi.
The case ignited the debate on women’s safety in workplaces as protests were also held against Tejpal.
He was accused of being a hypocrite for allegedly raping an employee even as a cover of his magazine invited women to be brave and report cases of abuse.
Many, however, saw a political vendetta against the renowned editor after he uncovered major corruption scandals in the government.
Tehelka carried a sting operation for one of its biggest scoops in 2001.
Its reporters posed as arms dealers and offered bribes and prostitutes to bureaucrats and even the president of the then ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Negotiations with the undercover journalists for the purported deal were secretly video-recorded, showing the officials accepting bribes offers to push through a fake arms deal.
The then president of the BJP, which returned to power again in 2014, was shown accepting a bribe of $2,100 for the deal. EFE