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4 Kerala Priests Charged With Rape in Church Sexual Assault Case

According to sources, the four priests of the Kottayam-headquartered Malankara Orthodox Church are planning to apply for anticipatory bail to avoid arrest.

Chandrakanth Viswanath | News18

Updated:July 2, 2018, 9:27 PM IST
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4 Kerala Priests Charged With Rape in Church Sexual Assault Case
Image for representation.

Thiruvananthapuram: Four of the five priests who allegedly sexually exploited a woman after threatening to make her confession public have been charged with rape and outraging the modesty of a woman.

According to sources, the four priests of the Kottayam-headquartered Malankara Orthodox Church — Fr Abraham Varghese (Sony) and Fr Job Mathew of Niranam Diocese, Fr Johnson V Mathew of Thumpamon Diocese and Fr Jays K George of Delhi — are planning to apply for anticipatory bail to avoid arrest.

“The investigation is only in its preliminary stage and a case has been registered according to the statement of the woman. The probe will look into all factors. I can’t comment on when the arrests will take place,” said S Sreejith, IG, crime branch.

The incident came to light in February when the complainant found some discrepancies in a bank account operated by his wife. On questioning, the woman revealed that three priests of Niranam diocese in Tiruvalla, one from Thumbamon in Pathanamthitta district and another in Delhi sexually abused her by threatening to reveal her confession. However, her statement named only four of them.

Following a complaint from the husband to the church authorities, the accused were suspended from their duties temporarily pending a probe.

However, the man wanted an order from the church defrocking the priests. He alleged that his wife was sexually exploited after she confessed to a pre-marital relationship with a priest, who threatened to reveal the details to her husband if she refused to cooperate.

Commenting on the incident, Baselios Mar Thoma Paulose II, head of the Malankara Orthodox Church, said: “The church is passing through an unfortunate phase. We respect the legal system of the country. We will not interfere in the penalty according to law and the present investigation finds the priests as culpable. The church has nothing to hide.”

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