Rape charges slapped against four priests in Kerala

Rape charges slapped against four priests in Kerala

Four of the five Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church priests, who allegedly sexually assaulted a woman, have been slapped with rape charges by the Crime Branch wing of the Kerala Police, official sources said on Monday.

The crime branch wing of the state police has registered an FIR and slapped rape charges against the priests after recording the woman's statement, they said.

The sources, however, did not give further details.

Last month, a man from Pathanamthitta district accused five priests of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church in Kerala of using his wife's secret confession to blackmail and sexually abuse her.

The incident came to light after an audio clip containing the victim's husband's purported conversation with a church official alleging sexual abuse of his wife by the priests was widely circulated on the social media.

The investigation team had recorded the statement of the victim's husband earlier.

The man had reportedly handed over copies of evidence against the priests to the crime branch team.

A Crime Branch probe was ordered into the case last week by state police chief Loknath Behara.

Veteran CPI(M) leader and chairman of the Kerala Administrative Reforms Commission V S Achuthanandan and the National Commission for Women (NCW) had written to Behara demanding a probe into the charges.

Crime Branch Inspector General S Sreejith is leading the probe.

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