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Kerala sex scandal: To save a priest from disgrace, I falsely said I raped my daughter, says girl’s father

Last week, police arrested Fr Robin Vadakkuncheril, 48, of Mananthavady diocese, on charges of raping the minor in his parish at St Sebastian’s Church in Kottiyoor.

Written by Shaju Philip | Kottiyoor | Updated: March 11, 2017 8:14 am
Kerala, kerala priest, St Sebastian’s Church, Father Robin Vadakkuncheril, Kottiyoor church, Kannur church, Catholic establishment, india news Father Robin Vadakkuncheril was arrested last week. Express

OVER A dozen photographs of various Catholic saints adorn a weather-beaten wall of this small, three-room, tiled house on a hill at Kottiyoor in Kannur. “Children are a gift from God,’’ reads a Biblical verse scribbled over one image. This is the home of the girl who delivered a baby last month after being raped, allegedly by a priest at the local parish. Where a grieving mother laments the “disgrace” that has tainted the family. And where a heart-broken father had to falsely admit that he had raped his own daughter to “protect the priest and the Church” in what is now being described as the worst sex scandal in the history of Kerala’s Catholic establishment.

Last week, police arrested Fr Robin Vadakkuncheril, 48, of Mananthavady diocese, on charges of raping the minor in his parish at St Sebastian’s Church in Kottiyoor. On Thursday, a court in Thalassery allowed police custody of the accused through the weekend.

But at this home on a hill, that’s of little consolation to the middle-aged couple and their five minor children. “The priest betrayed our family and our faith in the Church. After my daughter delivered the baby, he wanted someone to take responsibility for the birth. How could I find someone for this job? Finally, I had to falsely state that I was the father of my daughter’s baby. As a believer, I also wanted to avoid the disgrace falling on the priest and the Church,’’ says the father, a farm labourer.

“But I realised the seriousness of the crime after police arrested me as the rapist of my own daughter. They told me that I would be jailed for several years. That was when I revealed the name of the priest,’’ he says. “Robin paid the hospital bill of Rs 30,000 for the delivery and promised to do any penance for his sin. But he betrayed my daughter by trying to escape from India,” says the father, before denying allegations that the family had accepted money from the priest to hush up the rape.

The mother of the girl insists that there was little to suspect in the priest’s behaviour. “On most occasions, there would be women at the parsonage. Those women, once recruited by the priest to study abroad, used to call him ‘papa’. There had been no warning about the priest’s conduct. But unfortunately, our daughter has become a victim,’’ she says.

Police said the priest raped the girl during the summer vacation last May. At the time, she was engaged in entering data in the parish computer, along with some other girls. “There were a few others at the parsonage. But the priest assaulted the girl when she was alone in the building. She was threatened not to reveal the incident to anyone at home or school,’’ says the father.

The family says neither they nor teachers at her school noticed any changes in the girl, who attended class even a day before the delivery. “Her menstrual cycle was irregular, but we didn’t have any doubts about any pregnancy. Otherwise, who would wait until delivery?’’ says the mother.

But the couple say they are still “faithfully loyal” to the Church. “We are part of the Charismatic movement, a reformation movement in the Church. After our fifth child was born last year, we were honoured by the Pro-Life Movement of the diocese, which promotes bigger families,” says the father. As for their daughter, the family says she has been recovering fast. “She has been going to school since Wednesday to appear for her Class 11 examination. She is determined to fight back by focusing on her studies,” says the mother.

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  1. D
    Mar 12, 2017 at 5:02 am
    As mentioned this is flaw of the priest.. not the community. We must realise and appreciate the work off these folks of their selfless less service..they have done for the poor and down trodden .. Who would give up their family.. ambitions.. and offer themselves in these sacrifices.. for a flaw of one man.. it's is utter ber to blame the entire community.. why do we want our children to study then in Christian schools and colleges.. why take our dear ones to Christian hospitals.. coz I get it in its best in least pinch to pocket. This is the irony!! It is a ber to condemn the community for a flaw of one man..
    1. V
      Mar 11, 2017 at 2:57 pm
      Church must reconsider the practice of not allowing marriage to preist and confessing sin before preist, which leads to the exploitation of poor followers .
      1. Z
        Mar 11, 2017 at 3:07 am
        If it was a hindu priest, there would have been a Tsunami in Indian press. The incident would have been somehow linked with ABVP and BJP and Modi
        1. A
          Mar 11, 2017 at 2:28 am
          Nothing wrong, nobody is stopping you...get going...
          1. AMP AMP
            Mar 11, 2017 at 11:41 am
            What a disgrace to the entire Catholic community. The people who tried to save that son of a bi**h should be booked ASAP. The Bishop of that diosecse should also be booked and thrown in jail.
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