A Catholic priest was arrested on Sunday on charges of abusing at least six minor boys of a Church-run destitute house at Kochi in Kerala.
The 40-year-old priest is director of the destitute house in Kochi city police station area. The accused belongs to the religious congregation of the Order of Discalced Carmelites. Booked under relevant sections in the POCSO Act, the priest was produced before a magistrate court, which remanded him in judicial custody for two weeks.
Investigating Officer Joy Mathew said the priest, who has been director of the destitute home for the past three years, had been allegedly abusing the children since last December.
“On Saturday evening, a few children who went out to play returned to the home late. A junior staff at the home, who is also a brother belonging to the congregation, prevented them from entering. He asked the children, all below the age of 15, to wait outside till the accused priest reached,’’ said the officer.
The officer said that as the children started wandering near the home, a biker noticed them and suspected that they belonged to a gang involved in anti-social activities. “After being alerted by the rider, local police reached the spot and took all of them to the police station. After speaking to them in detail, police found that the children had been subjected to sexual abuse,’’ said Mathew.
The priest, who was taken into custody on Saturday night and placed under arrest on Sunday, has confessed to the crime, said police. “He had subjected six children to sexual abuse and we are probing if more children became his victims. The abused boys have been shifted to a government-run rescue home,’’ he said.
A release from the St Pius X Province of Order of Discalced Carmelites said, “We would cooperate with the probe and would not resort to any action to protect the accused person. The Church has zero-tolerance towards this sort of crimes. The Congregation has initiated its own probe against the priest. However, the incident would not dampen the service of the Church.’’