Kerala diocese suspends priest accused of sexual abuse
By Matters India Reporter
New Delhi: Palai diocese in Kerala on February 15 dismissed a priest accused of sexually abusing a Bangladeshi woman he befriended on a social media platform, according to TV channels in the southern Indian state.
The accused, Father Thomas Thanninilkumthadathil, has reportedly gone hiding after the police registered a case against him following the woman’s complaint.
The priest is the vicar of St Mathew’s Church Perumthuruth near Kaduthuruthy in Kottayam district.
The 35-year-old priest and the woman reportedly became friends on Facebook some time ago. The woman came to the parish a month ago with a Nigerian national. The priest reportedly placed the woman in the house of one the parishioners.
A few days ago, she went to the police in Kaduthuruthy alleging that she was impregnated by the priest. The police have now placed her in a women’s center in Kottayam, according to TV reports.
The diocese said it has suspended Thanninilkumthadathil from priestly duties and promised to cooperate with the police investigation.
The priest is among the top musicians in the diocese and a professional keyboardist, according to a source in the diocese of Palai.
He was ordained a priest on December 27, 2008 and served as assistant parish priest in Kanjiramattam, Manvettam and Ramapuram parishes.
The TV channels suspect the possibility of a scam because of the presence of the Nigerian national in the case.
Several Indians have fallen into what is called Nigerian online scam, where emails claiming that the recipient has won a huge lottery or prize or that someone is contacting them from Africa to give them a handsome fortune of a dead president.
Such online scams have become a major menace in India, according to ipleaders.com.
In September 2017, the police arrested 10 Nigerians in a fake fund transfer case. They were accused of duping nearly 937,000 rupees from a Delhi nurse.
Security agencies also warn a shift in the tactics of the Nigerian scamsters. They no longer rely on phishing emails, but dupe people on the pretext of partnering with multinational companies, investing in herbal seed businesses and channelizing foreign funds.