The matter was highlighted light last week when an audio clip went viral on social media that contained a man’s conversation with an official of the church alleging sexual abuse of his wife by the priests
The Hush Post: In the case of alleged sexual exploitation of a woman by five priests of Kerala’s Malankara Orthodox Church by blackmailing her on the basis of her confession, the Kerala Police have ordered the Crime Branch to probe the matter.
Five priests of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church are facing charges of sexually abusing and blackmailing a woman on the basis of her confession, a report said.
The Malankara Orthodox Church that has headquarters in Kottayam of Kerala had earlier promised “clear and impartial” investigation and suspended the priests, but the National Commission for Women (NCW) and social bodies demanded action. Former Kerala Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan had also written to the Kerala police for a thorough investigation, the report said.
The church had said it respected the sentiments of the followers but dismissed rumours being spread about the incident. “If they are found guilty, necessary action will be taken against them… The accused will not be shielded and innocent will not be punished,” a statement of the church read.
Biju Oommen, secretary of the church, said that as soon as they received a complaint, they took immediate action. “The church has acted in the utmost responsible manner … Today as things stand, the five are suspects. The probe is on and when the report comes, the church will act on it,” Biju Oommen was quoted as saying in the report.
The shocking incident had come to light last week when five priests of the Malankara Orthodox Church that has headquarters in Kottayam of Kerala state went away with a mild sentence of transfer over allegations of sexually exploiting a woman from the same church.
The church secretary, Biju Oommen, had reportedly said they had received a complaint from the husband of the victim and took immediate action. In his complaint, the woman’s husband alleged that the accused used her confession, which is supposed to be kept confidential, to blackmail her and sexually exploit her.
“The church has acted in the utmost responsible manner… Today as things stand, the five are suspects. A commission has been appointed to probe the episode. The probe is on and when the report comes, the church will again act on it,” Biju Oommen had said.
The victim’s husband has alleged that one of the priests who had first exploited his wife was blackmailing her. When she sought help on this from another priest, he too, threatened her and shared her contact with another fellow priest and in the end, she came under duress from at least five priests.
It was reported that the Orthodox Church was shocked as the episode was criticised heavily on the social media which dented the image of the church.
“We are certainly worried about the huge publicity that the incident has generated and we suspect that there are vested interests who are out to malign our Church in the social media,” Biju Oommen had said.