Kerala Police Arrest One More Christian Priest In A Sexual Exploitation Case

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New Delhi:  The police said Father Johnson V Mathew has been arrested from Thiruvalla in Pathanamthitta district and has been brought to the crime branch office for questioning. The police arrest of one more priest in a sexual exploitation case has rocked the Orthodox Syrian church over the last few weeks.

Another accused in the case, Father Job Mathew, had surrendered before the investigating team on Thursday. Police are still hunting for two more priests booked in the case.

The Kerala high court had earlier rejected bail pleas filed by the priests, observing that that “they appeared to have acted as predators”. It also said that there was no reason to disbelieve the allegations put forth by the 34-year-old woman.

In her statement to the police, the complainant said she was first assaulted at a prayer meeting by one of the priests – Father Varghese – when she was 16 years old. After the woman got married in 2009, she related the incident to a second priest – Father Job Mathew – at a confessional. However, instead of helping her, the clergyman allegedly used his newly acquired knowledge to sexually exploit her too. Later, he informed two of his colleagues – Jais K George and Jonson V Mathew – who also joined in blackmailing her. The issue came to light after her husband released an audio clip with his version of the incident on the social media.

This is the first time the police have registered a case on the basis of a confession, which is considered as one of the seven sacraments of the church. Kerala is the biggest exporter of ecclesial professionals in the country.

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