A petition has been filed in the Kerala High Court by Church Priest Robin Vadakkumchery, the Christian padre who was convicted this year in February under POCSO Act 2012 for raping a minor girl and is serving the sentence of 20 years of rigorous imprisonment in jail, seeking permission from the court to marry the girl raped by him, Samayam Malayalam reported.
The plea for marriage was jointly filed by both Robin and the rape victim. The court has sought a police report on the matter and the case is scheduled to be heard on Friday.
Priest Robin Vadakkumchery convicted of raping the minor girl
Earlier this year, Robin Vadakkumchery was convicted for raping and impregnating a minor girl by an additional district sessions court. Robin was held guilty of sexually exploiting and impregnating a 16-year-old girl in Kottiyoor in Kerala’s Kannur district. Subsequent to his conviction, Pope Francis dismissed him from the priesthood.
Besides slapping a fine of Rs 3 lakh against the priest, the court awarded the culprit of double life-imprisonment, meaning he had to serve 20 years of rigorous imprisonment. The court had also ordered criminal proceedings against the victim’s parents. The girl’s custody has been given to the Legal Services Society. The other six accused have been acquitted.
The many twists and turns in the arrest of the accused in the minor rape case
The rape case came to light after the victim delivered a baby boy in December 2016 at Christuraja Hospital in Kuthuparamba in Kannur. After being informed by the Childline India officials, Peravoor police filed a case on February 27, 2017 and shifted the victim to an adoption centre in Vythiri, Wayanad.
On interrogation, the victim’s father admitted to raping of his daughter, and the girl also admitted the same. However, priest Robin was arrested based on the secret information received by the Childline NGO.
Robin had “donated” money to the hospital as a recompense for not reporting the incident to the police. The hospital administrator had reportedly agreed to admit the girl while gynaecologist Dr Tessy and Nellayani Thankamma assisted the delivery. Dr
Robin Vadakkancery, the vicar of St Sebastian Parish in Kottiyoor, which is under the Catholic diocese of Manathavady, was taken into custody on 28 February 2017 for raping the 16-year-old girl in May 2016. Robin also managed the church-run school at the time of the incident. According to the police, the victim was raped several times in the priest’s room.
While Father Robin was the prime accused in the case, seven other accused had also been booked under POCSO for allegedly helping him cover up the incident. The other accused are Dr Nelliyani Thankamma who assisted in the childbirth, a gynaecologist at Christu Raj hospital in Kannur Dr Tessy, paediatrician Dr Hyderali, hospital administrator Ancy Mathew, Dr Liz Maria and Sr. Anita from Christu Dasi convent in Wayanad. Sr. Ophilia, the Superintendent of the Holy infant Mary orphanage at Wayanad where the baby was taken.
The sordid case also brought to fore the rampant shenanigans that continued unabated within the institutions controlled by the church. The case had several ups and downs and at one point the victim’s father claimed that he had raped his own daughter. The police claimed that the accused were shielded by a network of Church institutions who helped in covering up the case to save their own face. The police realised this after facing practical difficulties in nabbing all the accused in the case.
Even the victim and her family at one point in time turned hostile. However, the prosecution relied on the testimony of the government doctor and established that the girl was a minor and even if the sexual relationship was based on mutual consent, it could only be considered as rape.