Accused priest ‘lost everything’
HINDU priest Cooper Reddy, accused of repeatedly raping a young girl he had blessed at his Chatsworth temple, is a free man after years of anguish and emotional torture.
The Chatsworth grandfather, 64, was acquitted by the Durban Regional Court last week after a retrial.
Convicted in 2013, he successfully appealed against the verdict and 15 year sentence after spending a few months in Westville Prison.
In January 2014 the conviction and sentence were set aside by the Durban High Court, which had found irregularities in the trial and conviction.
Last week, the magistrate presiding over the new trial found the evidence riddled with irregularities.
Now Reddy is determined to get his life back on track.
His life had fallen apart when he was accused of raping a 9-year-old girl from 2006 until 2010, when she was 14.
The girl had complained of “tummy problems” and was taken to him for spiritual healing.
The complainant said she went to the priest on four occasions, initially with her mother, until Reddy allegedly told her it was “inconvenient” for her mother and he would fetch her.
He allegedly asked her to take off her clothes and sit on a bed before he raped her.
The girl had claimed that while there were other people in and outside the temple, the priest would take her to a private room inside.
Reddy repeatedly denied having sexually assaulted the complainant in any way or taking her into the room by herself.
He said he had blessed the girl in the presence of her mother by placing his hands on her forehead.
After his arrest, Reddy was granted bail in January 2011 and until 2013 he had been in and out of court. After the initial trial in May 2013, he was convicted on two counts of rape, one of sexual assault and one count of indecent assault. Reddy was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment.
But now the nightmare is over for him.
“Since the allegations surfaced and subsequent reports in the media, my life has been thrown into turmoil. I was a respected figure in the community, but the allegations left me and my family embarrassed,” said the father of two.
He said only he and his family had known the truth.
“I lost many devotees because of the claims against me. But through it all I held my head up high because I knew I was innocent. During my stay in Westville Prison I lived in fear, being an elderly man. I spent my time in prayer and reading.”
Reddy said since 2010 he had lost everything he had worked hard for.
“Due to my exorbitant legal fees, my home in Shallcross was repossessed and I had to sell my vehicles. I now live with my sister and I am trying to piece my life back together.”
For Reddy, the support of his wife, Kamatchie, and his son and daughter kept him strong.
Said his wife: “I’ve been married to him for 42 years and knew he could never do something like this. He was respected in the community, always helping the youth.”
The 62-year-old said it had broken her heart to visit him in prison.
“I’m glad this is all over. Now we can finally move on and rebuild our lives.”
Cooper Reddy at his Chatsworth temple.