Kochi, Sept. 20, 2019: The Kerala police on September 20 booked a Catholic priest in Ernakulam district for allegedly sexually assaulting three minor girls when they went to his chapel for blessings after the Sunday Mass last month.
Police said Father George Padayattil, 68, the vicar of the Holy Church in Chendamangalam, is absconding after they registered a case against him under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act and other sections. They said the incident happened when the children, all class 5 students, went to his room in the church to get his personal blessings after the Sunday mass.
The issue came to light after one of girls narrated the incident to her teacher. The 9-year-old reportedly told the teacher that the priest touched her and the other girls inappropriately. The three girls are friends and study in the same school.
The school immediately alerted child welfare officials and filed a police complaint. The police said the priest somehow found out and escaped. The girls’ statements were subsequently recorded before a magistrate. When contacted, the Syro-Malabar church refused to comment about the incident. Two months back, another priest in Erankulam district was arrested for allegedly abusing minor boys at an orphanage.
Last year a Pocso court in Thalassery in north Kerala convicted a senior priest, Robin Vadkumcharry, to double life-term for raping and impregnating a minor girl in 2016.
“We have recorded statements of the three girls before a duty magistrate under Section 164 of the IPC. We have collected evidence and started searching for the accused priest. We hope he will be arrested soon,” said Vadakkekara station house officer, TV Shibu.