Godman booked for sexual abuse

A 40-year-old self-styled godman was booked in Visakhapatnam after a woman devotee accused him of sexual abuse, police said on Friday.

Swami Keerthi, who has set up a Bharati Spiritual Ashram in Visakhapatnam, was booked on Thursday by the police following a complaint by the victim, who also alleged that he demanded money and threatened to kill her, Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP), Paderu, A R Damodar said.

The victim, who was sexually assaulted in August and has been a follower of Keerthi for long, alleged that other women followers at his Ashram were also undergoing similar harassment, the police officer said.

Based on the complaint, the police has registered cases under IPC sections 120B (Punishment of criminal conspiracy), 420 (Cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 354 (Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) and investigations are on.

Keerthi, a native of Marripalem area in Visakhapatnam came to Paderu in the agency area, a decade ago and identified himself as a spiritual guru, allegedly duped people by promising to cure them of their diseases and solving their problems through supernatural powers.

Keerthi has set up his ashram in around three acres of land near Vanthadapalle in Paderu.
According to police, Keerthi claimed himself to be a relative of freedom fighter Alluri Sitaramaraju.

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