'Priest Abused Minor Girl for Several Months'

By Arun M
New Indian Express
March 09, 2016

[with video]

KOCHI:  The Christian priest accused in the Puthenvelikkara rape case exploited his position and sexually abused the minor girl for several months.

The chargesheet in the case, filed before the Special Court for cases related to atrocities and sexual violence against women and children, states that Fr Edwin Figarez, who was priest of the Puthenvelikkara Lourde Matha Church, sexually abused the 14-year-old victim for one-and-half year.

Meanwhile, Ajitha, the government doctor who has been named the fourth accused in the case, was booked under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act), in a first of its kind arrest in the State. According to the chargesheet, Ajitha failed to inform the matter to the police after learning about the sexual abuse of the minor girl. The doctor came to know about the crime when the victim along with her mother approached her for treatment, while the former was working at the Puthenvelikkara Community Health Centre.

In addition to Fr Figarez and Dr Ajitha, four others brothers and cousins of the priest have been included as accused on charges of harbouring the offender. Thrissur-native Fr Figarez, 41, had served in the church for about three years.   Silvestar Figarez, 58, brother of Fr Figarez, is the second accused, while 54-year-old Stanli Figarez, another brother of the priest, is the third accused. His cousin Bencharin Figarez, 22, is the fifth accused, while relative Clarenz De Coutha, 62, is the sixth accused.

The priest had been staying at De Coutha’s residence at Elakunnapuzha after the police registered case against him.

Fr Figarez started preying on the poor child when she started visiting the church for confession. The victim used to visit Lourde Matha Church very often to confess before the priest.  On March 29, 2015, the victim’s mother took her to the residence of Dr Ajitha and disclosed the matter to her. Though the doctor prescribed medicine to the child, she did not inform the matter to the police.

Earlier, the girl deposed before the police that in December 2014, the accused forced her into a sexual act after showing her pornographic videos.



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