The Times of India [Mumbai, India]
May 1, 2022
Thiruvananthapuram: A Catholic priest was sentenced to 18 years of rigorous imprisonment by a Pocso court in Kollam district on Saturday for sexually abusing minor seminarians. Thomas Parekkulam, 35, of Catholic congregation, Society of St Eugene De Mazendo, is the one who received the sentence.
The sentence was delivered by additional district judge (Pocso) K N Sujith.
Parekkulam was facing trial in four separate cases of sexual abuse of minor boys. All the victims were aged 16 at the time of the crime and were students of a seminary at Punalur in Kollam district where Parekkulam worked as a parish priest. The cases were reported in 2017.
On Friday, the court had found Parekkulam guilty in all four cases. He was given five years of imprisonment each in three cases and three years of imprisonment in the fourth case.
The sentences have to be undergone separately, making the total quantum of sentences 18 years. The judge also ordered that the convict has to pay a compensation of Rs 1 lakh each to the survivors.
Considering the trauma suffered by the survivors in the sexual attacks, the court also recommended the district legal services authority (DLSA) to award adequate compensation to the survivors .
The accused, who went absconding after escaping from police custody, was arrested from Chennai, the office of the district public prosecutor said.
The case was registered and investigated based on a complaint received by the Child Welfare Committee in Thiruvananthapuram.
(The victims’ identity has not been revealed to protect their privacy as per Supreme court directives on cases related to sexual assault)