A Catholic priest in Kerala was arrested on Sunday morning for allegedly sexually abusing minors at a boy's home in Ernakulam district after some of the boys escaped and called their parents.
The 40-year-old priest is suspected to be a serial offender and had been molesting the boys since December 2018, the police said. "His phone is full of obnoxious messages, photographs, porn websites", a police official told NDTV. The priest is not being named to protect the identity of the minors involved.
Seven of the boys ran away from the home in on Saturday and called their parents. Later that night, the boys, some accompanied by their parents, went to a police station and filed their complaint.
The priest was arrested on the next morning and sent to 14-day police custody. A case has been registered against him including charges under a strict law on child sex abuse.
"Boys between the age group of 12-16 years have complained that they were sexually abused repeatedly since December 2018 in ghastly ways. He forced his way to even sleep with some of these boys," a police official said.
The Child Welfare Committee intervened and the boys, all of whom belong to poor families, were sent back home with their parents, police said.
Around seven other boys, however, continue to live at that home. "The boys who are still staying at the home have said that they have no complaints. Their parents have been informed of all the developments by us. It's for their parents to decide further," the police said.
In May, Pope Francis passed a measure to oblige those who know about sex abuse in the Catholic Church to report it to their superiors, following a global clerical pedophilia scandal.
Every diocese in the world was asked to have a system for the reporting of abuse, under a new law published by the Vatican -- but the requirement will not apply to secrets revealed to priests in the confessional.
It is time to learn from the "bitter lessons of the past", Francis said in the text of the legal decree.
It follows a series of clerical assault cases in countries ranging from Australia to Chile, Germany and the US.
Earlier this year, the Pope had vowed justice for victims of clerical sex abuse, describing paedophilia as one of the "vilest" crimes.
(With inputs from agencies)