PANAJI: Indian police charged the high-profile editor of an investigative magazine Monday with sexually assaulting a female colleague in the elevator of a five-star hotel in the resort state of Goa.
Police also said Tehelka Editor Tarun Tejpal tried to evade arrest for several weeks after being accused, with officers searching for him in Mumbai, Bangalore, New Delhi and Hyderabad. Tejpal has been in custody since Nov. 30 and faces a bail hearing on Tuesday.
The 2,846-page charge sheet, including testimony from 30 witnesses, also accuses him of rape and wrongfully restraining the woman under newly expanded laws which broaden the definition of rape to include some other forms of sexual assault. If convicted he could face up to seven years in prison.
The case has stunned many in India, in part because Tejpal was the face of a weekly investigative magazine that has pushed Indian society to confront corruption and sexual violence.
The woman said Tejpal assaulted her twice in a hotel elevator, on Nov. 7 and 8, when the magazine was hosting its annual conference of Indian leaders, newsmakers and celebrities. The woman’s duties at the conference involved escorting Robert De Niro and his daughter to events.
As the allegations became public, Tejpal first apologized 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.
Tejpal, 50, came under investigation after the woman told the magazine’s managing editor about the alleged assault. The woman has not been named in line with Indian laws protecting identities in sexual assault cases.
Indian media chronicled every turn in the case, from leaked e-mails and police reports to a resignation letter in which the accuser said she endured “intimidation, character assassination and slander.” Six other senior staff members have also resigned.
Tehelka, which means upheaval or sensation in Hindi, is closely followed by Indian journalists and the English-speaking elite. Using sting operations and exposes, the magazine has taken aim at high-level corruption in India.