The Kerala High Court Wednesday dismissed the anticipatory bail petitions filed by three priests belonging to the Kottayam-based Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, who have been booked by state police on charges of rape.
The court observed that their arrests could not be stopped as prima facie there was evidence against them. The court’s order is now likely to pave the way for the arrest of the accused.
The three priests who filed the anticipatory bail pleas are Jaise K George of Delhi diocese, and Job Mathew and Abraham Varghese of Niranam diocese. Another priest, Johnson V Mathew of Thumpamon diocese, has also been booked on charges of sexual assault.
A married teacher has, in her statement to the police, said that she was blackmailed by four priests over a secret ‘confession’ she had made in church and sexually assaulted by them over the years. Her husband had first approached the Orthodox church in May this year with a formal complaint demanding the defrocking of the priests.
The Church placed the four priests on suspension, and formed an inquiry panel to conduct a probe. By then, an audio clip of a phone conversation between the woman’s husband and a friend about the incident was leaked on social media, resulting in the police registering a case.
In an interview to the Indian Express, the victim’s husband had said that ‘no man can hear the things that my wife has told me and that those things are now being discussed in public.’
“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 had told The Indian Express.