Father Robin Vadakkumcherry*, above, along with five nuns and two doctors, have been arrested in connection with the rape of a 16-year-old girl.
The vicar at the St Sebastian Catholic Church in Kottiyoor, was allegedly trying to flee India when Kerala police swooped.
According to this report, the eight were arrested on suspicion of covering up the alleged rape. The girl later gave birth to a baby boy in a hospital and the child was shifted to an orphanage controlled by the church.
During investigation, police found that there was an alleged attempt to cover up the whole incident and bail out the priest.
Though the hospital in which the baby was born claimed that it was not aware of the rape, police reportedly found out that two doctors and a few staff members knew about the incident.
Two days after the delivery, the baby was discreetly shifted to an orphanage controlled by nuns. The superintendent of the orphanage is also among the accused. Instead of reporting the incident to police, all the accused entered into a conspiracy to hush up the case, police claimed.
Meanwhile, the Mananthawady diocese, under which the accused priest worked, tendered an apology to the girl and her family.
Said Mananthawady Bishop Mar Jose Porunnedam in his apology.
I endure your pain and agony. And I am also in pain … The loss of self-respect and spiritual damage caused to the church by this incident is huge. I don’t know how to pacify the child and her parents. I too join in their tears. I can only apologise to you.
The girl’s mother had filed on a complaint with Childline that the priest had “sexually exploited” her daughter last year. The offence came to light after the girl gave birth to a baby at the hospital in Koothuparamba on February 7.
The Class 11 student was studying in a school in which the priest was also the manager, police said.
Update: A Christian weekly magazine, which is backed by a Catholic Sabha or association, blamed the alleged victim for the abuse and said the priest may have momentarily:
Forgotten his position.
“Daughter, why did you forget who a priest is?” read an extract in the Sunday Shalom, according to an India Today translation.
He has a human body and has temptations. He may have forgotten his position for a few seconds, my child who has taken the Holy Communion, why didn’t you stop or correct him?
* In other reports the priest is identified as Fr Robin Vadakkancheril.