Priest held for rape

Priest held for rape

The police in Kannur on Tuesday recorded the arrest of a Catholic priest in connection with the rape of a minor girl in Kottiyoor in the district.

Questions remained on the reported attempts to cover up the incident and the help that the priest got from some quarters as he attempted to flee the country.

Kelakam Police has registered a case against Robin Vadakkancheril (48) under the Protection Of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and Section 376 (rape) of the IPC. The incident came to light after a17-year-old girl delivered a child earlier this month.

Vadakkancheril was vicar at the St Sebastian Church in Kottiyoor, under the diocese of Mananthavady, and manager at a higher secondary school. He has since been removed from the positions.

The class XI student was raped by the vicar in the parish about a year ago. She was 16 at the time of the incident.

“The accused was at a position in which he was expected to protect the girl. He was both vicar and manager of her school; this aspect brings in more gravity to the case,” Prajeesh Thottathil, DySP, Iritty, told reporters.

The priest was arrested from Chalakudy in Thrissur district when he was reportedly travelling to Kochi to fly to Canada. The police brought him to the parish on Tuesday to record evidence in the case amid protests against him.  Police sources said there were other “unconfirmed” complaints of abuse against Vadakkancheril.

Mathew Thelliyil, chairman of the Child Welfare Committee, Kannur, told DH that there were attempts to shield the priest. “We requested the police to immediately record the victim’s statement before a magistrate under Section 164 (of the Code of Criminal Procedure),” Thelliyil said.

Police are following up on the reported cover-up attempts at a hospital near Koothuparamba, where the girl gave birth, and an orphanage in Vythiri in Wayanad district, run by nuns, where the new-born was reportedly shifted.

Representatives of the diocese of Mananthavady have, so far, not made any public statements on the case. Bishop Jose Porunnedom confirmed in a statement, on Monday, the priest was removed from office with “immediate effect”. The priest’s name, photograph and other details have been removed from the diocese’s website.

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