A lauded Canadian humanitarian worker was arrested in Nagarkot, Nepal after he was accused of raping two underage boys.
Peter Dalglish, 60, a lawyer from Ontario, Canada, is widely known for his work for the betterment of street children across the world. He was awarded one of Canada’s highest civilian honors, the Order of Canada, in 2016.
The activist was arrested in early May, 2018 on the charge of pedophilia and now faces up to 13 years in prison.
“He sexually abused children after giving them the false hope that they would be taken to a foreign country,” said Jeevan Shrestha, a spokesman for Nepal’s Chief Investigation Bureau.
His arrest was a shock for people around the world but people of the Nepalese village, where he set up his cabin, were shattered and felt betrayed. He lived on-and-off in Nepal since 2002 and also helped people rebuild their homes after the devastating 2015 earthquake.
Dalglish also made a special bond with locals as he would greet people in Nepali and offered children chocolates from Thailand.
Tamang, father of one of the boys in the case, said he worked on the activist’s house and he shared a good relationship with his boss. He added he would often allow his 14-year-old son to spend the night at Dalglish’s home but never knew about his evil intentions.
The father added police officers told him that they had befriended his son and he told authorities Dalglish abused him, his 12-year-old cousin and at least two other boys.
“I think the police were following Peter for a long time. The boys said they were asked to sleep naked and were raped. I never imagined Peter would do such a thing,” said Tamang.
Tamang’s son also revealed in an interview that the sexual assault was not recent and he was regularly abused over a period of seven years. The father added police discovered a box in Dalglish’s home that was full of indecent photos and film negatives of naked children.
Dalglish made a reputation over a long period of time. He advocated for children in war-torn regions around the world.
In 1988, he set up an organization, Street Kids International, which strives to help street youth worldwide develop business skills and health knowledge to better their lives. The activist also worked with the United Nations in 2016 during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
“Peter Dalglish’s arrest should be a ‘teachable moment’ for the humanitarian community to understand and recognize how predators exploit the cover of ‘heroism’ to commit crimes. Let’s be clear. Peter Dalglish is not a hero. He never was,” said Lori Handrahan, a veteran humanitarian worker.
As a result of the activist’s arrest, humanitarian workers around the world are saying it is now time to investigate themselves. In the last two years, several foreign humanitarian activists have been arrested on the suspicion of pedophilia.
“There have been some instances where they were found working with charities. Our laws aren’t as strict as in foreign countries, and there is no social scrutiny like in developed countries,” said Pushkar Karki, the head of Nepal’s Chief Investigation Bureau.
Spotlight, Banner: Reuters, Francis Mascarenhas