Church sex scandal: SC asks two priests to surrender

Church sex scandal: SC asks two priests to surrender

The counsel for victim alleged that some videos were uploaded by the accused on the Internet and they used the same to blackmail her.

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to grant anticipatory bail to two priests, accused of sexually abusing a married woman in the Kerala church sex scandal.

The court asked them to surrender before the police by August 13.

A bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said the two priests can seek regular bail once they surrendered. The court also allowed a counsel for the victim to raise the issue of alleged uploading of a video by the accused on the internet before the trial court.

The crime branch of the Kerala Police had on July 2 registered a case against four priests on the basis of a statement given by a woman belonging to the same church who has accused them of sexually assaulting her on many occasions.

The four priests attached to the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church were accused of sexually abusing the 34-year-old woman by allegedly using her confessional statement.

While two of them surrendered, two others — Father Sony Verghese and Father Jaise K George approached the apex court for anticipatory bail after their plea was rejected by the Kerala High Court on July 11.

Senior advocate V Giri, appearing for Kerala police submitted a status report of investigation and said no interrogation has taken place so far of the two priests who were earlier granted protection from arrest by the apex court.

“We have granted protection from arrest to them but it does not mean that they can't be interrogated,” the bench said.

Senior advocate R Basant, appearing for the two priests, said the accused are willing to cooperate in the investigation and record their statements.

Counsel for the victim claimed that the accused priest had uploaded a video on the internet to blackmail the woman. The video contained some disparaging remarks against the victim, even when the investigation in the case was underway.

On this, Giri said, “If true, this is a very grave and serious issue.” Basant, however, said that he would ensure that these things do not happen again.

Giri claimed the damage has already been done.

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