Nuns evade arrest in clergy abuse case
Kannur: Police have intensified the search to trace five nuns and two others accused of covering up the sexual abuse of minor girl by a Catholic priest in Kerala.
The police conducted the search for the second day on March 5 but failed to trace the nuns, a male doctor and a Catholic lay woman, investigating officer Sunil Kumar told the Press Trust of India news agency.
Two of the nuns and the doctor worked in a hospital in Koothuparamba in Kannur district and other three nuns managed an orphanage in Vythiri in neighboring Wayanad district.
The laywoman, Thankamma Nelliyani, is a parishioner of St Sebastian’s Church in Kotttiyoor, a parish under Mananthavady diocese.
The main accused, Father Robin (Mathew) Vadakkumcherry was the vicar of the parish and manager of the school where the 16-year-old victim studied. The priest is accused of impregnating the girl who delivered a baby boy on February 7 at the Koothuparamba hospital managed by Catholic nuns.
The priest, who was arrested on February 28, is lodged in a sub jail in Tellicherry, a major town in Kannur district.
The police on March 4 registered a case against eight persons, including the priest, for their alleged role in hiding facts related to the case.
They were booked under non-bailable sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) and Juvenile Justice Act.
Meanwhile, Bishop Mar Jose Porunnedom of Mananthavady on March 5 said the Church is with the victim and her family. The church leadership has never tried to protect the accused, the prelate said in a statement.
The bishop also announced the removal of Church spokesperson Father Thomas Joseph Therakam, chairman of the Wyanad Child Welfare Committee (CWC), who is also at the center of the controversy over the shifting of the baby of the victim from the hospital to a church orphanage.
“In this case, the Church is with the victim and her family,” the bishop said adding all the accused should be brought before law and the Church would give its full support.
However, those not guilty should not be punished, he added.
The bishop had apologized to the victim and her family a day earlier.
Senior Congress leader A K Antony on March 5 slammed the priest, saying he has shamed the Christian community.
“He has done heinous crime and does not deserve any mercy. He is a shame to the community and should not be given any consideration of a priest,” Antony told reporters at Kozhikode.