Udupi: A journalist associated with a leading newspaper in Karnataka has been arrested on charges of sexually abusing at least 21 minor boys in Udupi.

The accused, Chandra K Hemmadi, who worked as a stringer in Udupi’s Byndoor region, is also a popular music teacher and singer. Cases have been filed against him under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

He is said to have been contributing for a leading Kannada newspaper. After the news broke, the newspaper is said to have terminated his contract.

Hemmadi worked as a stringer from 2012. In the pretext of being a stringer, he visited schools in the villages and spoke highly about representing the problems of the villagers and won the trust of parents of minor boys.

Then, he went on to seek help from the boys asking directions for certain places and started clicking photographs. He would take them to remote places and sexually abuse them.

He would also warn that nobody would believe them as he had won the trust of their parents and the villagers.

The issue came to light when the parents of one of the minor boys who was sexually harassed by Hemmadi, registered a complaint. This helped others also to come forward and complaints have been filed against Hemmadi at various police stations.

Currently, 16 cases have been booked against Hemmadi in the Byndoor Police Station, three in Gangolli and one complaint each in Kollur and Kundapur.

Some complaints explain the ordeal boys underwent back in 2013.

Hemmadi was arrested and produced before the district magistrate court in Udupi on December 3. The magistrate has handed him over to the police and will be in custody till December 17.