Stating that no man can hear “the things that my wife has told me, and today those things are being discussed in public”, the husband of the victim who was sexually abused, allegedly by four church priests over years, now wants the accused to be defrocked — dismissed as priests.
“I am a devout Christian, and in our religion priests are said to be the ‘prathi-purushan’ of Christ. They deliver the holy mass to our laymen. But some priests are destroying the right to be one by engaging in dirty activities,” he told The Indian Express over phone.
On Monday, Kerala Police’s Crime Branch booked Abraham Varghese and Job Mathew of Niranam diocese, Johnson V Mathew of Thumpamon diocese, and Jaise K George of Delhi diocese on charges of rape based on the victim’s complaint and has begun investigation.
In his complaint to the church submitted on May 7, the man alleged that the priests sexually exploited his wife by blackmailing her over a confession she had made to one of the priests nearly a decade ago.
Alias P C, the church spokesperson, said, “Our inquiry commission is continuing the probe alongside the Crime Branch investigation. They (priests) stand suspended as of now and if the allegations are found to be true, they will be defrocked from the church.”
According to the man, he chanced upon the abuse his schoolteacher-wife was undergoing while working to file an investment declaration proof on February 15. “Since there were some insurance policies in my wife’s name, I asked to check for some documents on her email. In her inbox, I found a suspicious bank statement of a hotel transaction. She initially denied it was hers but later told me about the priest,” he said.
The 36-year-old claimed that his wife’s exploitation began much before their marriage when Varghese, who was not a priest then, abused her, claiming that he was in love and wanted to marry her. “He cheated her and married another woman. After our marriage, he re-started that relationship, continuing to abuse her. He would threaten her that he would tell me,” he said.
In 2009, after the baptism of their second child, his wife reportedly confessed about the abuse to a second priest, who took advantage of her confession and began exploiting her, he alleged. Later, a third and a fourth priest joined in, all using the same confession to ask for sexual favours from her, he alleged. “She has been suffering abuse for nearly 20 years… Nobody could find out about it,” he said.
Has the controversy eroded his belief in the church? ‘Never. I am trying to strengthen the church. It should not stand with its head down in shame. It must be known to the world as the Lord’s church,’ he said.
At the moment, the victim is believed to be staying with her parents and has given a formal statement before the Crime Branch. Attempts to reach her were unsuccessful.
‘I want to contact my wife but there are people watching my every move. I cannot compromise on her security and protection. I want her back,’ the husband said.
His voice quivering, the man spoke about his ‘helplessness’ of being stuck in a situation he never wanted in life. ‘Oru Indian pourante nissahaya avastha aanu eniku (Mine is the helplessness of an Indian citizen). I only wanted my family to be happy. I always had small dreams in life. I never wanted to be a topic of discussion among the public. Today, I feel I am stuck. I cannot abandon this issue or move ahead in life. I feel like a character in someone else’s screenplay.”