Five priests in Kerala are being investigated over allegations that they sexually assaulted a woman for almost 20 years in a cycle of abuse and blackmail. Two of the priests today approached a court for protection from arrest.
The woman's story was exposed when an audio clip of her husband complaining to a church official was posted and circulated online.
The 36-year-old man has alleged that the priests, who are based at the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church in Kottayam, sexually abused and blackmailed his wife for years.
It started when, as a teenager in the 1990s, the woman was allegedly forced into sex by a priest. She confessed to a second priest, who allegedly blackmailed her into sex.
Speaking to NDTV, her husband said when she reached out to the priests for help, they threatened and assaulted her.
"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 said.
Then two more priests threatened her and forced her into sex, the woman has reportedly told the police.
The woman has recorded her statement with the police and provided horrifying details about the role of priests who allegedly used her confessions to blackmail her.
The police have filed a rape case against the four priests. No arrests have been made yet.
"We have filed cases of rape against the priests because though this may appear consensual, there is blackmailing involved. And this amounts to rape. There are several procedures involved before the arrest, which includes the statement to the court. Arrests will follow," a senior crime branch official told NDTV.
The woman's husband alleges that he is under immense pressure from the church and its followers. The woman is currently with her parents. While the police has recorded her statement, the church has not heard her yet, according to the husband.
In another case, a nun has filed a complaint against a Roman Catholic Bishop Father Mullakal in Jalandhar, alleging that he sexually abused her several times between 2014 and 2016. However, it was the bishop who filed a first complaint saying that he was being threatened after he took disciplinary action against the Sister.
The police have filed a case of rape against the bishop.
Christianity is the country's third-biggest religion according to the 2011 census, with approximately 28 million followers or 2.3 percent of the population.
Get Breaking news, live coverage, and Latest News from India and around the world on NDTV.com. Catch all the Live TV action on NDTV 24x7 and NDTV India. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for latest news and live news updates.