- 4 priests accused of raping, blackmailing woman using her confession
- 34-year-old woman accused them of uploading her videos online
- Two priests were arrested earlier, they are out on bail
Two of the four Kerala priests, accused of raping and blackmailing a woman for several years, surrendered before a local court today.
The priests from the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, Father Sony Varghese (Abraham Varghese) and Father Jaise K George, had approached the Supreme Court for protection from arrest after the Kerala High Court rejected their plea. They were told by the top court to first surrender before the local court by August 13.
Father Abraham surrendered before a court in Thiruvalla town today and the other priest, Father George surrendered before the police in Kollam district.
The 34-year-old married woman has alleged that the four priests sexually abused her by using her confidental confessional statement. She alleged that they uploaded videos on the internet and they used them to blackmail her. The Crime Branch of the Kerala Police had on July 2 registered a case against Father Varghese and three other priests on the basis of a statement given by the woman who belonged to the same church.
"The main culprit, the Father, promised to marry her and continued to manipulate her. The Father was a student at that time. Even after finishing his seminary and becoming a priest, he continued the same pattern. Even after we got married in 2006, the priest continued to sexually abuse my wife, blackmail her, saying that he would tell me everything. I got to know all this only in February," the husband told NDTV.
On July 19, Father Sony Varghese and Father Jaise K George were granted protection from arrest by the top court till it pronounced a verdict on their anticipatory bail pleas.
The two other priests - Father Job Mathew and Father Johnson V Mathew - who were arrested last month are out on bail.
Last month, the National Commission of Women (NCW) recommended abolishing the practice of "confessions" in churches as they felt it can lead to blackmailing of women. The suggestion came after a number of women alleged rape and sexual abuse by priests and church officials.
The women's commission recommendation drew sharp criticism from the Catholic church and churchgoers.