HC gives bail to Kerala priest accused of rape

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Kochi, July 23 (IANS) The Kerala High Court on Monday granted bail to Father Johnson V. Mathew, one of the four priests accused in a rape case of a woman parishioner.

The court, however, asked the Malankara Orthodox Church priest to surrender his passport.

Mathew was arrested on July 13, from near Thiruvalla by the Crime Branch police probing the case. He has been holed up at the Pathanamthitta district jail since.

Last week a magisterial court in Thiruvalla had rejected his bail, following which he approached the high court.

In this case the Crime Branch has charged four Kerala priests, including Father Job Mathew who was the first to be nabbed and Father Johnson V. Mathew. Father Sony (Abraham) Varghese and Father Jaice K. George had moved the Supreme Court and managed to get a stay order till their petition is finally disposed.

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While Mathew who got the bail on Monday, has been charged for outraging the modesty of a lady, the three others have been charged for rape.

The victim who regularly visited the 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 in the beginning 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, according to the police.

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–IANS

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