The Shillong Times [Meghalaya, India]
August 21, 2021
TURA, Aug 21: In a major development to the molestation of a minor allegedly by a priest in East Garo Hills last month, the district police has now filed a charge sheet against the accused following the completion of the investigation.
The priest, Fr. James Parathanathu, had allegedly molested a 14-year-old girl at the latter’s residence while her parents had gone to work in their paddy fields. The parents of the girl had then they filed a police complaint after they came to know about the incident.
According to the victim, the priest had not only groped her but had also offered her money to keep mum.
Parathanathu, who was reportedly missing after the incident, was recently arrested and sent to judicial custody.
“The investigation into the case has been completed and charge sheet has been filed already. He has been arrested and sent to judicial custody. The matter is in the court now,” informed East Garo Hills SP Bruno A Sangma.
Church denies reports
Meanwhile, the Catholic Church in Garo Hills has denied the reports of Parathanathu absconding following the incident.
In a statement, Fr Kurian P, Diocesan spokesperson from Bishop House, Tura, said that Parathanathu, who was unwell, had undergone medical treatment at Tura and Guwahati.
“An FIR was filed and Fr James was asked to appear before Williamnagar Police on 2nd August. On the same day he was granted interim bail until 9th August. He was summoned before investigation officers on 4th August and he complied and fully cooperated with the investigation. However, on 9th August his petition for regular bail was not granted,” the statement said.
Stating that Parathanathu was relieved of his duties as Parish Priest and Principal of St. James School, Chidimit, in order to facilitate a free and fair enquiry, the statement said, “The church works for the welfare of women and children, and strongly condemns all crimes against them. In the case of Fr James, he is merely an accused and the matter is still sub judice. He never intended to abscond and is fully cooperating with the investigation. We have full confidence in the investigation agency and the judiciary of the land. We are sure that truth will come to light and justice will prevail.”