Church priest in Kerala arrested for sexually assaulting minor

The News Minute [Bangalore, Karnataka, India]

March 17, 2022

A 35-year-old priest attached with a Syrian Orthodox Church in Pathanamthitta district of Kerala was arrested on Thursday morning, March 17, for allegedly sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl. He has been identified as Pondson John, priest of the Syrian Orthodox Church at Koodal.

According to IANS, the arrest was based on the complaint of the school girl who confided to her friend about the incident. Her friend, in turn, informed the school authorities. Later, after the school authorities informed the local Child Line officials, they got in touch with the local police. The Pathanamthitta Vanitha police, after a preliminary probe, took the priest into custody on Thursday morning.

According to the complaint, the girl was taken for counselling to the residence of the priest, on March 12, by her mother. The child’s mother had sought the help of the priest for counselling her, as she was facing troubles with her studies, stated a report. Under the pretext of counselling, the priest allegedly tried to abuse the girl. The next day, he allegedly sexually assaulted her at her house.

He has been booked under sections 3 (penetrative sexual assault), 4 (punishment for penetrative sexual assault), 7 (sexual assault) and 8 (punishment for sexual assault) of POCSO Act.

On March 14, a fast-track special court in Thiruvananthapuram sentenced a 21-year-old youth to 20 years of rigorous imprisonment for kidnapping and raping a minor girl in Thiruvananthapuram a year ago. Judge R Jayakrishnan found the youth Noufal guilty of kidnapping the minor and committing the offences of rape several times.

In an earlier instance, on March 10, the Kerala High Court allowed a 10-year-old sexual abuse survivor to terminate her 30-week pregnancy. The child had become pregnant allegedly after being sexually abused by her father. The High Court permitted medical termination of her pregnancy at the SAT Hospital in Thiruvananthapuram.

(With IANS inputs)