One Kerala rape-accused priest moves Supreme Court for relief from arrest

One of the two Malankara Orthodox Church priests, who are on the run facing charges of sexual abuse of a parishioner, approached the Supreme Court on Saturday seeking relief from arrest, while the other will do so on Monday, said an official.

Speaking to IANS, a key investigating officer seeking anonymity said Father Sony (Abraham) Varghese on Saturday filed his petition in the apex court, which will be heard on Monday, while another accused, Father Jaice K. George — currently posted in Delhi — will file a petition on Monday.

The officer said: “We have got information that one of the accused has already approached the apex court and the other will do it on Monday. We are keenly watching the people harbouring these two priests. Such people will definitely run into trouble.”

On Friday, the Crime Branch police probing the case arrested Father Johnson V. Mathew from a house near Thiruvalla. Both him and another priest Father Job Mathew, who was arrested on Thursday, have been remanded to judicial custody.

“We have gathered crucial evidence with regard to the crime that the two arrested priests have committed. These will definitely help us shape up the case,” the officer added.

While the four priests have been made accused in the case, Johnson V. Mathew has not been charged for rape but “for outraging the modesty of a lady”.

The arrest of the accused priests became a certainty after the Kerala High Court on Wednesday rejected the anticipatory bail plea of three of them.

A woman, who regularly visited the Malankara Orthodox Church, has accused five priests of sexually abusing her for a decade. Her husband has complained that she was subjected to sexual overtures by five priests.

Initially, it was only one priest who first exploited his wife and then started blackmailing her. When she sought help from another priest, he too threatened her and shared her contact with a fellow priest and she was eventually victimised by five of them.

One priest, however, escaped action as the victim mentioned only four names, the investigating officer said.

The National Commission for Women is monitoring the case.

(The story has been published from a wire feed without any modifications to the text)

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