Kerala Crime Branch on Monday registered a rape case against four priests of Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church who have been accused of sexually exploiting a married woman belonging to their Church.
The issue has rocked the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, a prominent non-Catholic Church in Kerala, after the victim’s husband wrote to the Church, alleging that the priests had blackmailed and abused his wife, a school teacher.
Last week, veteran CPM leader V S Achuthanandan had moved a complaint with the state police chief, seeking a probe into the allegations.
Subsequently, the Crime Branch recorded the woman’s statement, leading to the case against the four priests, three of them married — in Malankara Orthodox Church, priests have the option to lead a married life. The accused priests are Jaise K George, Abraham Varghese, Johnson V Mathew and Job Mathew.
The woman has alleged in her statement that Varghese sexually abused her during her teenage years and this continued after he became a priest and both of them married separate people. Later, the woman confessed about this to Job Mathew who threatened to reveal the confession to her husband and sexually abused her, she has alleged. The woman then took up the matter with her distant relative and college classmate Johnson V Mathew, who went on to become a priest. He also sexually exploited her after threatening to disclose the earlier affairs, she has alleged. Jaise K George allegedly assaulted her when she went to him for counselling due to the trauma, she has said.
Malankara Church priests’ trustee Fr M O John said the allegation that priests exploited a woman after threatening to reveal confessions is serious. “All of them have been asked to go on leave and barred from functioning as priests,’’ said John.