Indian man arrested for allegedly kissing toddler twice on lips, cites ‘cultural difference’ as defense
A 28-year-old Indian national is now behind bars after he allegedly forcefully kissed a toddler on the lips inside a public aquarium in Sydney, Australia.
Police say Nikhil Bhatia first touched the back of the toddler’s head, then moved to the front and lowered himself to the child’s level, as per The Sydney Morning Herald last Monday, Jan. 20. He grabbed the unknowing child’s arms and gave him two kisses on the lips.
The 28-year-old was caught with the child by the victim’s father, who claims that Bhatia used force to move the child closer to him.
Bhatia, who has only been in Australia for a week, is a complete stranger to the child and his family, as per the report. They were at the Sea Life Aquarium last Sunday, Jan. 19 when the incident occurred.
Bhatia then apologized profusely to the father after getting caught, according to Sergeant McKinnon, a police prosecutor.
“Once the father intervenes, almost instantly, the accused reacts by saying ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry’,” she was quoted as saying. “I’d ask you to accept he knew what he was doing [was] wrong.”
The prosecutor then added that Bhatia told authorities that “it happens, it’s a cultural difference.”
Police were immediately called and Bhatia was arrested at the scene, according to the report. He has been charged with intentionally sexually touching a child under 10 years old, which may land him a maximum of 16 years in prison.
Bhatia’s defender, Atty. Sharon Ramsden, said they intend to plead not guilty as they argue that the act was not sexual in nature and was “spontaneous,” and raised again Bhatia’s mention of “cultural difference” as part of the defense.
She added that the prosecution will need to prove that there was sexual arousal or gratification from the act. The prosecution claims that the statements from the victim’s parents and the security footage from the aquarium are strong evidence against the defense.
Bhatia is set to appear again in court in early February. Ian Biong/NVG
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