Father Job Matthew, the second priest accused of sexual abuse in the case, has surrendered, according to The Free Press Journal. Police sources report that Matthew is currently being questioned in the Crime Branch office. His surrender to authorities follows the dismissal of bail pleas from three other priests accused in this case.
The accused priests are Abraham Varghese, Job Matthew, and Jaise K. George. They all serve in the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church as clergy. Rape charges were brought against them after Kerala police recorded the victim’s statement. Five priests in total from this church are currently under investigation for sexual abuse and four have already been booked for molestation.
The investigation began once a recording of the victim’s husband describing her abuse was released online. Her husband described the series of rape and sexual exploitation tactics she was trapped in for 20 years.
“A lot of people have been calling me, advising me that I should not go ahead. It will be difficult for me. I was provoked to file a complaint against the police,” he said to NDTV.
The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, for its part, is reaffirming their speedy action in the case.
“The moment we got a complaint, an executive committee was set up and the complaint was forwarded to various concerned dioceses. The priests were suspended and a probe began. We were in the last stage of our probe, when police filed a complaint and are not investigating the matter,” said Father MO John, who serves as Trustee of the Orthodox Church.
Over the past 18 months, 12 priests from different churches in Kerala have been accused of sexual abuse, including the rape of minors and women. A nun and another woman described abuse stretching back years and alleged that the Church made a concerted effort to cover it up.
The 48-year-old Roman Catholic nun made a complaint against Fr. Franco Mullickal, the Bishop of Jalandhar, last January. Church officials had allegedly promised action by June 30, but Mullickal stalled it by filing a complaint against her and five others, accusing them of threatening him.
On June 27, the nun filed a complaint with the police, asserting that she had been abused 13 times in two years by Mullickal.
The Bishop of Jalandhar is still in office and has not moved forward because he has his own views on the accusations.
“The father has his own version that the nun is taking revenge for his official action against her,” Fr Nigel Barrett said.
Barrett serves as the spokesperson for the Catholic Bishops Conference.