One of the four priests in Kerala, who was accused of rape and sexual assault by a 34-year-old woman has surrendered in Kollam on Thursday. Father Job Mathew was the second among the four accused.
The anticipatory bail petitions of the four rape-accused priests were rejected by the Kerala High Court on Wednesday.
The police have filed rape cases against three priests and one has been accused of molestation. While one has surrendered, three others are on the run say sources.
The Malankkara Syrian Orthodox Church priests have been accused of rape, based on the statement of a the woman who alleged that she was sexually abused by five priests. In shocking a statement to the police, she had also said that even her confidential confessions were used to blackmail her.
"She was sexually abused as a minor. Forced into an illicit relationship once the man became a priest and even got married. She was threatened even after her marriage and sexually abused. When she sought help from three other priests, who were counsellors and her friends, they too abused her. One of them, even blackmailed her based on her confession, required to be done as a ritual before our child's baptism", the husband has told NDTV.
In a scathing observation, while rejecting the bail pleas, the court yesterday said, "It appears that the applicants have acted as predators and have taken undue advantage of the position of the survivor. From the version of the survivor it appears that accused have systematically abused her and are closely known to her family. The reasonable possibility of accused to obstruct justice, cannot be brushed aside."
The Orthodox Church Trustee, Father MO John, while speaking to NDTV said that the church is not hiding facts or shielding the priests. "The priests have been suspended and they have no responsibilities in the church now. They approached the High Court in their individual capacities. We are not hiding them at all. It is for the police to find them," said father John.