Kerala Police on Saturday booked eight persons, including five nuns, on suspicion of covering up the alleged rape of a 16-year-old girl by a church priest.
The main accused, Father Robin Vadakkumcherry, vicar of the St Sebastian church in Kottiyoor, was arrested on February 27 while allegedly planning to flee the country.
All the accused, including two doctors and five nuns, will be charged under POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences).
“We are investigating all angles. All accused will be arrested soon,” Kannur superintendent of police Shiv Vikram told Hindustan Times.
Among the accused is the in-charge of the private hospital at Kuthuparamba in the district, where the 16-year-old girl gave birth to a boy on February 17.
They have been booked under non-bailable sections of POCSO Act and Juvenile Justice Act, Peravoor circle inspector Sunilkumar, who is the investigating officer in the case, said on Mar 4.
During investigation, police found that there was an alleged attempt to cover up the whole incident and bail out the priest. The girl’s father, who belongs to an economically backward family, was also promised Rs 10 lakh to own up the crime.
Though the hospital where the girl delivered the baby 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.
“I endure your pain and agony. And I am also in pain…,” said Bishop Jose Porunnedamof Mananthawadyin his apology.
“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 bishop said.
Soon after the incident came to light, the diocese had removed the priest from all posts.
A police report has also been submitted to the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights and Kannur district police superintendent against the chairman and a member of the Child Welfare Committee of Wayanad district for hiding facts in the case, police official Sunilkumar said.
The report recommends action against them for concealing details of the newborn from the authorities.
Source: Hindustan Times
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