Almost a fortnight after Father Robin Vadakkuncheril was arrested on charges of raping a minor, the priest and nuns, who were accused of covering up the incident, on Friday surrendered before police in Kannur district of Kerala.
48-year-old Fr Robin, of Mananthavady diocese, was held on charges of raping the minor at his parish at St Sebastian’s Church in Kottiyoor. She had delivered a baby last month. Last week, a court in Thalassery had allowed police custody of the accused through the weekend.
While the mother of the girl had lamented the “disgrace” that has tainted the family, the father of the victim, a farm labourer, had claimed he had to falsely admit that he had raped his own daughter to “protect the priest and the Church” in what is now being described as the worst sex scandal in the history of Kerala’s Catholic establishment.
Police said the priest had raped the girl during the summer vacation last May. At the time, she was engaged in entering data in the parish computer, along with some other girls.
Speaking to the Indian Express, the heart-broken father had said,“The priest betrayed our family and our faith in the Church. After my daughter delivered the baby, he wanted someone to take responsibility for the birth. How could I find someone for this job? Finally, I had to falsely state that I was the father of my daughter’s baby. As a believer, I also wanted to avoid the disgrace falling on the priest and the Church.”
“But I realised the seriousness of the crime after police arrested me as the rapist of my own daughter. They told me that I would be jailed for several years. That was when I revealed the name of the priest,’’ he continued. “Robin paid the hospital bill of Rs 30,000 for the delivery and promised to do any penance for his sin. But he betrayed my daughter by trying to escape from India,” said the father, before denying allegations that the family had accepted money from the priest to hush up the rape.