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Priest promised cash to dad for taking blame

Author: Shaju Philip
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: March 1, 2017
URL:   http://indianexpress.com/article/india/kerala-minor-rape-priest-promised-cash-to-dad-for-taking-blame-4548719/

Girl’s father accepted paternity, cracked during questioning.

The Kerala Catholic priest, who allegedly raped a minor, had tried to foist the paternity of the child born to the victim on her own father, police said Tuesday.

An investigating officer of Kannur police said that in return Father Robin Vadakkancheril had promised to look after the family’s financial requirements in future.

Father Robin, 48, who belonged to the Catholic Diocese of Mananthavady, was caught from Kochi on Monday.

The girl, who earlier this month gave birth to a boy, had initially said her own father was the parent of the newborn.

Father Robin was the vicar of the St Sebastian’s Church in Kannur district to which the girl’s family was attached.

The police said the priest had promised money to the girl’s father for accepting the paternity of the child.

“The priest gave money to pay the hospital bills after the delivery. The victim’s parents are farm workers and have five children, all minors. The priest also assured them he would look after the family’s future financial requirements. The girl’s father was not aware of the harsh laws and what was in store for him,” said the officer, adding that the father’s “loyalty towards the priest” also prompted him to shoulder the blame of the vicar’s alleged crime.

The police said initially the girl told the investigators she was sexually exploited by her father. “When we caught the father, he repeated the same story. But he was forced to disclose the involvement of the priest during a detailed interrogation,’’ the investigating officer said.

After Sunday Mass, Father Robin moved to Kochi in an attempt to fly to Canada. He had been to Canada earlier.

The Church-run Christu Raj Hospital at Koothuparamba in Kannur, where the girl delivered the child, said she was admitted on February 7.

Hospital administrator Sister Ancy Mathew said the girl complained of stomach pain. “Her parents, who brought her to the hospital, told us that the girl had completed 18 years. We realised she was pregnant. The parents told us she was unwed. Soon after admission, her delivery was done. The next day, we reported to the municipal authorities about the birth and the marital status of the mother. Three days later, when activists of Childline, a government-backed service for children in distress, came to the hospital, we handed over to them all details. The baby was also removed from the mother,’’ said the administrator.

The diocese has removed the priest from all duties and constituted a committee to probe the alleged rape.

On Tuesday, the priest was taken to the parsonage for collection of evidence. Later, he was produced before a magistrate court, which remanded him in judicial custody.
 
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