Thiruvalla: One of the four accused Kerala priests, Father Johnson V. Mathew, named in a sexual abuse case of a parishioner, was arrested from a place near here, said police on Friday. This is the second arrest in the case where the husband of a woman accused five priests of sexually abusing his wife for a decade.
While four priests have been arraigned as accused, Mathew has been charged not for rape, but “for outraging the modesty of a lady”. Mathew was taken into custody by the Kerala Crime Branch from a house in Kozhencherry. He is being interrogated at the Crime Branch office.
On Thursday the police arrested Father Job Mathew and he has been remanded to judicial custody. On Friday, the police also searched the house of the first accused, Father Sony (Abraham) Varghese near here. However, they failed to get any lead about his whereabouts. Varghese along with another accused, Father Jaice K. George, are on the run.
Earlier on Friday, the Crime Branch issued a warning that no one should try to shield any of the accused. A few hours later Mathew was taken into custody. The arrest of the accused priests became a certainty after the High Court in Kochi on Wednesday rejected the anticipatory bail plea of three of them named in the complaint.
A woman who regularly visited the Malankara Orthodox Church had accused five priests of sexually abusing her for a decade. Her husband had complained that she came under the duress from at least five priests. It was one priest in the beginning who first exploited his wife and then started blackmailing her.
When she sought help from another priest, he too threatened her and shared her contact with a fellow priest and she was eventually victimised by five of them.
The National Commission for Women is monitoring the case. One of the priests escaped action as the victim had mentioned only four names, the police officer said. There have been reports that the two priests currently on the run will be approaching the Supreme Court for relief from arrest.