Church sexual assault: Third priest held

Church sexual assault: Third priest held

The Malankara Orthodox Church Catholicate Palace in Kottayam. FB

A police team investigating a case of sexual abuse by priests in the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (MOSC) on Friday took into custody Fr Johnson V. Mathew, third accused in the case.

The priest who is charged with section 354 of the IPC – outraging the modesty of the survivor – was detained from near his home in Kozhencherry, in Pathanamthitta district. He was taken into custody a day after the second accused in the case – Fr Job Mathew – surrendered before the probe team in Kollam.

Fr Johnson Mathew and three other priests – Fr Abraham Varghese, Fr Job Mathew and Fr Jaise K. George – were booked after a homemaker from Thiruvalla alleged that they intimidated her and used her church confession to sexually abuse her. The three others are charged with rape. Fr Job Mathew is charged with using the woman’s confession regarding a relationship she had with Fr Varghese, before and after her marriage, to intimidate and sexually abuse her. Fr George is accused of having sexually abused her after she approached him for counselling and revealed details about her relationship with the other priests.

According to the survivor’s statement, Fr Johnson Mathew sexually assaulted her in a car and sent her sexually explicit messages on WhatsApp. The Kerala High Court was set to hear the priest’s plea for anticipatory bail on Friday. The court had earlier rejected anticipatory bail pleas made by the other three priests and directed them to surrender.

The two detained priests have been remanded in judicial custody while the two elusive priests – Fr Varghese and Fr George – are reportedly set to approach the Supreme Court seeking anticipatory bail.


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