Kottayam: Two priests, accused of blackmailing and raping a woman parishioner in Kottayam for years, have surrendered before the police after their bail pleas were dismissed by the Supreme Court.
First accused Fr Abraham Varghese, alias Sony, and fourth accused Fr Jaise K George had earlier expressed their willingness to surrender before the investigating agencies as the apex court ruled that the trial court must hear their bail pleas immediately.
The duo is among the five priests accused of sexually abusing and blackmailing a woman parishioner for over a decade after threatening to disclose her church confessions.
Even though five priests are accused of having abused the woman, the names of only four figure in the charge sheet. The last name was omitted for want of evidence. Earlier in July, second accused Fr Job Mathew and third accused Fr Johnson V Mathew had surrendered before the cops after their bail pleas were rejected.
The woman had told the investigating agencies that she was 'systematically abused' by the accused, all closely known to her family. She had made a confession to one of the priests that she was sexually abused by a member of the church fraternity.
According to her statement, the priest who took her confession blackmailed her, threatening to release the information to the public.
She said she was in a delicate situation, just after the birth of her son, and the priests took advantage of this. The woman's husband had recently discovered the torment his wife had been silently enduring for years and took up the matter with the church. He had demanded that the priest be removed from the church.
The incident came to light after an audio clip of the purported conversation of the victim's husband with a church official about the sexual abuse of his wife was widely circulated on social media.
Confession, a method of the church by which individuals confess sins and have them absolved by God through the administration of a priest, is obligatory in the Orthodox church at least once a year.