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Kerala priests accused of blackmail and sexual abuse

Five priests of an orthodox church in Kerala have been accused of sexual abuse and blackmailing, by a married woman in Kerala. As per reports, an inquiry panel had been formed to look into the allegation against the five priests from the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church who have been working under the administration of the Kottayam church. Father M O John said that the five priests have been asked to keep away from officiating all priestly duties and function as head of parishes. While they are not yet suspended, an inquiry report will decide their fate.

As per reports, the victim’s husband complained to the church through an audio clip in which the man has narrated the ordeal where she was allegedly sexually abused by one of the priests before they got married, who even made advances towards her after they got married. He has accused that during his daughter’s baptism, his wife confessed this to another priest who also allegedly exploited her.

Shockingly, however, the Father John has reportedly said that this incident does not deserve a police probe. He questioned the husband, who has accused the priests of abusing his wife 380 times, on what were they doing till the time the figure reached 380. He has reportedly also said that there is no substance in woman’s allegation.

This is not the first time that the churches in the country have been accused of doing things which are considered to be a contravention to law. Recently, another priest who once served in India was accused of involvement in child pornography. In March last year, a preist of  St Sebastian Church in Kannur, Kerala was accused of raping and impregnating a minor.

Recently in Vallampadu, Andhra Pradesh, a 45-year-old pastor was booked for brutally raping an 11-year old girl. In July 2017, Father Saji Joesph, a priest who was the director of a children’s home in Kerala’s Wayanad district, was arrested after allegations of sexually abusing minor boys. In 2013, an illegal shelter home housing dozens of children from extremely poor families in North Eastern India was reported in Jaipur. One girl had accused priest Jacob John of rape and as many as 13 girls were suspected to have been sexually abused by the priest. The children were all found to be living in cramped rooms amongst rotten vegetables in an utterly unhygienic environment. In 2011, a heartbreaking case had come to light in Guntur when a local church priest had set a minor girl on fire after sexually abusing her for over a year. The girl succumbed to her injuries after suffering 90% burns. In 2010, a priest named Habib Joesph was arrested for alleged sexual abuse of a minor. The sister of the minor girl had died in the same institution a year earlier. The girl alleged that she and her sister were both being sexually abused regularly and this was known to the nuns in charge of the girl. The girl’s elder sister had died allegedly after being raped by the priest and beaten by the nun. Habib Joseph was granted bail within a day.

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