Church Scan on Abuse, Blackmail Cry
By K.M. Rakesh
June 27, 2018
Bangalore: A church in Kerala has suspended five priests following a believer's allegation that they used his wife's confession - a private sacramental rite - to sexually exploit her.
The Malankara Orthodox Church, based in Kottayam, has started an internal probe on the priests after a purported recording of a telephone conversation went viral on social media.
In the conversation, the woman's husband is heard narrating her ordeal to another man.
On Tuesday, the husband told reporters in Kottayam he had handed over copies of all related documentary evidence to the church administrators.
Church spokesperson P.C. Elias said the internal probe would be conducted at the respective dioceses of the priests who have been removed from all duties.
Asked if the church had reported the matter to police since the allegation amounted to blackmail and rape, Elias said it was up to the accuser.
"We have a system by which we suspend priests for long periods if found guilty of such serious offences or permanently remove them from the communion," Elias told The Telegraph.
In the 12-minute phone call, the victim's husband says he had stumbled upon how his wife was being sexually abused while filing his sales tax returns in February.
He said he had accessed his wife's email account to download some insurance records when he came across bank account statements on payments made to book rooms in a star hotel in Kochi. When confronted, the woman broke down and revealed how the priests had blackmailed her into submission.
According to the husband's purported narrative, a parish priest had sexually abused his wife before she got married and had continued to exploit her even after her marriage.