A special court in Thrissur on Friday sentenced a pastor to life imprisonment after he was found guilty of raping a minor. Sanal K James, 35, was already serving 40 years of imprisonment since March last year, after he had been convicted in another rape case of a minor girl. James belonged to Salvation Army, a protestant Christian church. According to the prosecution, the victim’s family belonged to a village in Thrissur district, where James used to work as a pastor for Salvation Army. He frequently used to visit the victim’s house whenever her parents were away. As per the church directive, James was supposed to go to the village to preach along with his wife. However, he always went alone.
The girl, belonging to a scheduled caste, had stated that she was first abused on the day of Christmas in 2013 when she was 12 years old. After that the sexual exploitation had continued. She added that in one such incident, James had raped her at his parsonage. Fearing the pastor, the victim did not reveal the matter to her parents.
The abuse was exposed in February 2015 when the victim’s school teacher found her behaviour suspicious. The minor girl then revealed her trauma during a counselling session. She also disclosed that one of her friends had also suffered sexual exploitation at the hands of the pastor. Medical examination of the victims had confirmed rape. Police had registered separate cases against James under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.