US national remanded in India for allegedly molesting teenage boy

KOLKATA (AFP) - An Indian court on Saturday (Nov 28) remanded an American citizen in custody for 14 days over allegations he molested a teenaged boy in his hotel room, police said.

The 51-year-old US national was produced before a sessions court in Kolkata, capital of West Bengal state, where a case was initiated against him under India's stringent Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.

"He was produced before a sessions court today (Saturday). He has been remanded to judicial custody for 14 days," Mr Debashis Dhar, an additional police deputy commissioner, told AFP.

Chief public prosecutor Manjit Singh confirmed the remand to AFP over phone.

Officials at the US consulate were not immediately available for comment.

The accused, who had come to India on a tourist visa, was arrested on Friday (Nov 27) after hotel authorities lodged a complaint.

Investigators said the man had befriended the boy, 14, on Facebook before coming to Kolkata.

"(In Kolkata) he met the boy near the hotel, took him to a shopping mall to gift him football boots and a sports bag and then asked him to accompany to his hotel room," Mr Dhar said.

Hotel security manager Joydip Palit said the boy had alleged that the man forced him to perform a sexual act in the hotel room and was handed a 100-rupee (S$2.10) note when he protested.

A conviction could result in a jail term of up to seven years, along with a fine.

India brought in tougher laws after the fatal gang-rape of a student on a bus in New Delhi in 2012, but they have failed to stem the tide of sex attacks across the country.