A 65-year-old principal of a private school in the north Indian state of Jharkhand was arrested on Friday (1 December) for allegedly sexually abusing a seven-year-old girl.

S Xavier alias Francis Xavier, principal of Tilaiya Public School, confessed to the crime and admitted that he sexually abused the girl on several occasions, deputy superintendent of police Anil Shankar said.

Xavier who also teaches English at the school has been charged under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) and has been sent to judicial custody, the Hindustan Times newspaper reported.

According to police, the girl disclosed the incident to her parents on Wednesday (29 November) after she was abused by the principal. Her parents then lodged a police complaint against Xavier.

In the complaint, the parents said that the principal had taken their daughter to the school's washroom when no one was around.

The girl told her parents that the principal had undressed himself and then forcibly removed her clothes. When she started to cry, he threatened her and told her that she should obey him.

The parents said that the principal then forced the girl to perform oral sex on him and that it was not the first time he had done it.

"The girl explained perfectly what had happened with her in the past several days. This is going to be strong evidence against the accused," police said. The girl was sent for medical examination to complete all legal formalities.

"The incident raised an alarm bell for schools where children spend a substantial time after home. It's a horrifying incident and only a mentally ill person can act in such a manner. We have recently seen the murders at Ryan Public School in Gurgaon this year and at a reputed residential private school in Ranchi last year. The school must be asked to thoroughly inspect the antecedents and character of its teachers and staffs including bus drivers and helpers," Jharkhand Parents' Association president, Ajay Rai said, according to the newspaper.

After the Ryan Public School incident, the district administrations in the state had launched a special drive to check the security systems in school.