Acting on a complaint filed by a British-Bangladeshi woman, Kerala Police Thursday registered a rape and theft case against a Catholic priest.
The accused, Thanninikkumthadathil Thomas, 35, is the vicar of St Mathew’s Church, Perumthuruth near Kallara in Kottayam district. He belongs to the Syro-Malabar diocese of Pala. After the case surfaced, the diocese on Thursday dismissed Thomas.
The 43-year-old woman, in her complaint to Kaduthuruthi police in Kottayam, said she had met the priest through facebook. She alleged that Thomas repeatedly raped her during her week-long stay in Kottayam. She then flew back to the UK on January 17 before returning on February 8. During her second visit, she alleged that Thomas had stolen her gold ornaments, mobile phone and 1,300 British pounds.
Vaikom deputy police superintendent K Subash said the woman was shifted to a government-run shelter home in Kottayam. “We have registered the rape and theft case against the priest based on the statement of the woman. The alleged rape had taken place during her first meeting with the priest last month. We are looking to why she had returned then, without moving a complaint with the police. Further action would be taken only after detailed probe,” he said.
The priest, who was ordained in 2008, has gone into hiding. In a press release, the diocese of Pala said the Church authorities had come to know about his misconduct on Tuesday. He was then asked to report at the bishop’s house. After realizing the gravity of the issue, Fr Thomas was dismissed from all priestly duties. The diocese will completely cooperate with the police probe, said the release.