Fr Abraham Varghese, Fr Jaise K George and Fr Job Mathew had moved the HC last Tuesday seeking anticipatory bail, just a day after they were booked on charges of rape and molestation.
Kerala police have registered a rape case against another priest belonging to the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, which is already reeling under allegations of sexual abuse against four of its priests.
He was taken into custody from Kollam (south Kerala) and efforts are on to nab three others, police said. A spokesman of the church said the other three are expected to surrender on Thursday to the police in line with the court order.
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A woman accused Binu George of sexually assaulting her at a church office in Alappuzha district when she met him to seek help on a family dispute in 2014. She then chose to approach the police.
The Crime Branch, which is now investigating the case, told the court that anticipatory bail should not be granted to the accused priests since it was essential to take them into custody for questioning. The court said there was no reason to ignore the version of the 34-year-old homemaker on how she was threatened and forced to succumb to the carnal desires of the accused after she made a confession to one of them. "One of them, even blackmailed her based on her confession, required to be done as a ritual before our child's baptism", the husband has told NDTV. "The reasonable possibility of accused to obstruct justice, can not be brushed aside". "The priests have been suspended and they have no responsibilities in the church now".
The High Court had earlier refused to stay their arrest and dismissed their pleas for anticipatory bail. We are not hiding them at all. According to reports, the accused priests, who are now absconding, have said that they were willing to surrender before the investigating team.