A day after the Kerala High Court rejected the bail pleas of four priests who allegedly raped a woman for many years, police on Thursday arrested Father Job Mathew one of the four accused. While one has surrendered, three others are on the run say sources. The crime branch has registered an FIR against the priests after recording the victim woman's statement.
Kerala police have registered a rape case against another priest belonging to the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, which is already reeling under allegations of sexual abuse against four of its priests.
After pressure mounted on the police following the National Commission for Women monitoring the case, the four priests were charged with sexual assault. The priest was transferred to another parish, but, the complaint said, he continued to send lewd messages to the woman and she eventually approached police.
"She was sexually abused as a minor". Forced into an illicit relationship once the man became a priest and even got married.
The public prosecutor said the victim had, in her statement to a magistrate, narrated in detail the abuse to which she was subjected.
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When she sought help from another priest, he too threatened her and shared her contact with a fellow priest and, in the end, she came under duress from at least five priests. "The reasonable possibility of accused to obstruct justice, can not be brushed aside".
Her husband had complained that one of the priests, who first exploited his wife, was blackmailing her.
The court also directed the accused to surrender forthwith before the court of jurisdiction.
The Orthodox Church Trustee, Father MO John, while speaking to NDTV said that the church is not hiding facts or shielding the priests. We are not hiding them at all. "It is for the police to find them", said father John.
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