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Crime Branch to Probe Kerala Church Sexual Assault Case

Five priests were transferred after Secretary of the Church Biju Oommen said they received complaint from the victim’s husband alleging that the accused used her confession to blackmail her.

Neethu Reghukumar |

Updated:June 29, 2018, 3:11 PM IST
Crime Branch to Probe Kerala Church Sexual Assault Case
Representative image
Thiruvananthapuram:The Crime Branch of Kerala police will probe into the allegations of sexual exploitation of a woman by five priests of the Malankara Orthodox Church.

Director General of Police (DGP) Loknath Behra has asked the Additional Director General of Police heading the Crime Branch to constitute a special team.

Five priests were transferred after Secretary of the Church Biju Oommen said they received complaint from the victim’s husband. In his complaint, the husband has alleged that the accused used her confession, which is supposed to be kept confidential, to blackmail her.

The husband has said one of the priest who first exploited his wife was blackmailing her. When she sought help on this from another priest, he too, threatened her and shared her contact with another fellow priest and in the end she came under duress from at least five priests.

Speaking to News18, the husband said he has written a compliant to the church and is waiting for the decision. “I have some proof which I have already shown to the bishops of the church and they have understood that the five priests are culprits," the complainant said

He said he did not initially did not go to the police as he did not want to make the issue public. He said he will take legal recourse if he does not receive a favourable decision from the church.

The Kottayam-headquartered church had announced an internal probe but has faced criticism from all quarters. Former Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan also wrote to DGP Behra saying it was unfair that the church was conducting the probe, as it would not be a "fair and free" investigation.

"The church has acted in the utmost responsible manner… Today as things stand, the five are suspects. A commission has been appointed to probe the episode. The probe is on and when the report comes, the church will again act on it," Oommen had said.

Meanwhile, the church inquiry is on and a report is expected by mid-August. The inquiry commission has taken the statement of the five priests and the complainant but has so far not taken the statement of the woman.

Father M O John, a member of the inquiry commission, said, “We are inquiring the details of the complaint. Only after meeting with the woman, we can know the truth. We have to hear from her, then we can report to the police."

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| Edited by: Naqshib Nisar
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