Tarun Tejpal: Senior Indian journalist charged for assault and rape of employee

Tarun Tejpal, who has denied the allegations, was said by the police to have tried to evade arrest for several weeks

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The Independent Online

A Senior Indian journalist has been charged with the assault and rape of a woman reporter who worked for his magazine.

Among the charges formally levelled at Tarun Tejpal, former editor-in-chief of Tehelka, was one of assault by a “person in a position of trust or authority”. The new offence was introduced in the aftermath of the 2012 gang-rape and murder of a Delhi medical student when the government established a commission that recommended tougher laws.

The charging of Mr Tejpal, whose left-leaning magazine is celebrated for its exposes of India’s powerful, followed a festival at luxury hotel in Goa and at which Robert de Niro was among the guests. Mr Tejpal is alleged to have sexually assaulted his staff member in one of the lifts of the hotel.

Police, who filed a 2,846-page charge sheet which included testimony from dozens of witnesses, said Mr Tejpal had tried to evade arrest for several weeks after being accused and that officers searched for him in several of India’s major cities.

Mr Tejpal, who has been in custody since 30 November and who is due to return to court on Tuesday for a bail hearing, is also charged with wrongful restraint, confinement and rape committed by a person in a position of control or dominance over another person.

The woman said Mr Tejpal assaulted her twice in a hotel elevator on 7 and 8 November, when the magazine was hosting its annual conference of Indian leaders, newsmakers and celebrities. The woman’s duties at the conference involved escorting Mr De Niro and his daughter to events.

The Associated Press reported that after the allegations became public, Mr Tejpal first apologised for “a bad lapse of judgment, an awful misreading of the situation” and said he was stepping down for six months. Later, he described the sexual encounter as consensual and fleeting.

Mr Tejpal, 50, came under investigation after the woman told the magazine’s managing editor about the alleged assault. Various emails from the parties involved were subsequently leaked to the media, which has covered every twist of the case, including the resignation of the women from the magazine after she said she had endured “intimidation, character assassination and slander”.

Police said the alleged assault caused “serious psychological injury to the dignity, self-esteem and overall personality of the journalist”.  Mr Tejpal, who has written several well-received novels, has denied the allegations.