Second Kerala priest arrested in rape probe
Father Johnson V Mathew, one of the four Kerala priests named in a sexual abuse case was arrested from a place near here, said police yesterday.
It is the second arrest in the case where the husband of a woman has accused five priests of sexually abusing his wife for a decade.
While four priests have been arraigned as accused, Mathew has been charged not for rape, but “for outraging the modesty of a lady”.
Mathew was taken into custody by the Kerala crime branch from a house in Kozhencherry. He is being interrogated at the Crime Branch office.
On Thursday the police arrested Father Job Mathew and he has been remanded to judicial custody.
The police yesterday also searched the house of the first accused, Father Sony (Abraham) Varghese near here. However, they failed to get any lead on his whereabouts. Varghese along with another accused, Father Jaice K George, are on the run.
Earlier yesterday, the crime branch issued a warning that no one should try to shield any of the accused. A few hours later Mathew was taken into custody.
The arrest of the accused priests became a certainty after the Kochi high court on Wednesday rejected the anticipatory bail plea of three of them named in the complaint.
A woman who regularly visited the Malankara Orthodox church had accused five priests of sexually abusing her for a decade. Her husband had complained that she came under the duress from at least five priests.
It was one priest who first exploited his wife and then started blackmailing her. When she sought help from another priest, he too threatened her and shared her contact with a fellow priest and she was eventually victimised by five of them.
The National Commission for Women is monitoring the case. One of the priests escaped action as the victim had mentioned only four names, the police officer said.
There have been reports that the two priests currently on the run hope to approach the Supreme Court for relief from arrest.