Kerala sexual abuse case: There was move to hush up crime'

Systematic attempt by part of clergy to bail out the priest involved in alleged crime.

Kozhikode: The Mananthavady diocese press statement saying it took swift action against the erring priest flies in the face of facts. The diocese headed by Bishop Jose Porunnedam on Tuesday said the suspension of the priest pending inquiry was because of alleged sexual abuse of a girl. Its public relations office said the bishop had suspended the priest within hours after getting information. He has been banned from performing the holy sacraments including leading the holy mass, the release said. He was also removed from the post of the parish priest.

But believers raised suspicion about the claims. They say there was a systematic attempt to hush up the entire episode and allow the priest to escape to Canada. They also protested when police brought the priest to gather evidence from the parsonage on Tuesday. Citing the investigation officials, they said the girl's father was forced to own up the paternity of the child by pressure from someone. It was the repeated interrogation of the police that forced the girl to reveal the name of Fr Robin Vadakkumchery.

A police officer who preferred anonymity told DC that the church cannot wash off hands as it had prior knowledge. “The hospital where the girl gave birth was attached to the church, and the delivery of the minor was conducted in a most secretive manner, neglecting all mandatory norms followed in incidents in which underage girls are involved,” he pointed out. The newborn was shifted to the orphanage that too under the church at Vythiri where the authorities did not inform the police about the receipt of the new child, police said. “Both these violations prove that without the knowledge of the higher echelons of the church such blatant violations could not have happened,” he added.

The church came out only when the priest was arrested, and all steps to hush up the case failed. Moreover, the priest was shifted from the post of corporate manager of the church-run schools in Wayanad earlier after complaints of sexual abuse. The church was forced to remove him from the St De Paul parish in Kalpetta where parents raised protest against him for abuse of minor girls, alleged another believer from Kalpetta. However, the church expressed its willingness to cooperate with proceedings under the civil and criminal laws of the land. The Mananthavady diocese also constituted a church inquiry committee on the allegations as per the Canon Laws.

Rein in erring priests, demand reformists

The reformists in the Roman Catholic Church are concerned over the failure of the Church in reining in the wayward priests who subject even minor girls to sexual abuses. The Church has been colluding with the culprits to hush up the incidents and spend much money to ensure that the families of the victims keep mum. Most of the victims are from poor families, it is pointed out. Catholic Laymen’s Association leader C.L. George told DC that the government should bring the bishops also into the ambit of the law for abetting the crime as well as covering up the incidents to save the accused.

“Such cases increase as the Church is ready to protect them,” he added. It may be recalled that Fr Robin Vadakkumchery of Neendunokki, Kottiyoor, was held on Monday night for sexually abusing a minor girl who gave birth to a child 20 days ago. Fr Robin had headed Infam (Indian Farmers’ Movement) as its Wayanad district director and led many novel farmers’ agitations. Later, he was also appointed as the corporate manager of about 100 schools in the Mananthavadi diocese. He was the regional head of Deepika, the Church mouthpiece when it was acquired by Faris Abubacker. Later, the Church regained its hold over the paper. He had also headed Jeevan TV.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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