The Supreme Court, on Thursday, expressed concerns over the rising number of rape cases involving priests from the churches of Kerala. The Supreme Court also refused the plea to stop trials in another alleged rape case involving a priest from Kerala which is scheduled to start from August 1. The SC bench comprising of Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said, “What is happening in Kerala, priests are becoming accused in rape cases.” The bench also directed the Kerala state police to file a status report within two weeks on the investigations conducted so far in the case which involves four priests from the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church. The SC bench also posted the matter for August 6. The case involving priests of the church was filed by the husband of a victim both of whom are part of the diocese of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. The woman and her husband have accused the four priests of blackmailing and sexually abusing the woman over a long period of time.
The Crime Branch wing of the Kerala Police had filed a case against Father Varghese and three other priests on the basis of statements given by the woman who had put blackmail and sexual abuse charges on them. Two accused priests Father Sony Verghese and Father Jaise K George were granted protection from arrest by the SC till the next hearing where the apex court will pronounce a verdict on their anticipatory bail pleas. The plea of the clergymen had been filed and granted in the Supreme Court after the Kerala High Court had rejected a similar plea on July 11. The two other accused too have filed similar pleas in the court for seeking anticipatory bail.
The Supreme Court refused to put stay on another rape case which has emerged from Kottiyoor in Kerala where another priest was involved. The Kerala state government counsel informed the apex court that charges in the Kottiyoor rape case have already been framed and the trials are supposed to begin from August 1. The Kottiyoor rape case involves the alleged rape of a minor by a Catholic priest and hence the SC on July 13th had termed the charges to be “very serious” in nature. Two doctors and the hospital administrator too have been named under the POCSO Act in the same case for covering up the crime.
The Church seems to have a problem of rampant sexual abuse all over the world. The church tries to hush up these issues and maintain a straight face to protect its religious identity and maintain its clean image of working as enlightened God men. Pastors, Fathers and other priests have often tried to cover up the mistakes of their brethren in the olden times too when the churches used to control the government and in turn the public opinion. It has become apparent by the expose of countless charges against men of the church in the past few years in India alone.
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