Kerala sex-for-silence scandal: HC grants conditional bail to priest, accused to appear before investigating officer twice a week

Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Wednesday granted conditional bail to Job Mathew, a Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church priest, arrested on charges of sexually assaulting a 34-year old married woman.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Granting the bail, Justice V Rajavijaya Raghavan directed the priest to appear before the investigating officer twice a week and not to influence the witnesses or tamper with the evidence.

Mathew, the second accused among the four priests in the case, was arrested after he surrendered before the police in Thiruvalla on 12 June. He has been accused of sexually assaulting the woman since 2009 by misusing her confession. Mathew, a vicar of a local church, was also directed not to leave the country.
The Crime Branch wing of the State Police had on 2 July registered a case against the four priests.

It was on the basis of the statement given by a woman belonging to the same Church accusing them of sexually assaulting her on many occasions. The high court had earlier granted bail to another priest and third accused Johnson V Mathew, a counsellor of the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church, arrested on 13 July.

The two priests had surrendered after the high court dismissed their anticipatory bail plea and that of two other priests, observing that they had acted as "predators" and took "undue advantage" of the woman. The two other priests, accused in the case, have moved the Supreme Court seeking anticipatory bail.

The incident came to light after an audio clip of the purported conversation of the husband of the victim with a church official about the alleged sexual abuse of his wife by the priests was circulated on social media. The woman's husband had last month accused the priests of using his wife's secret confession to "blackmail and sexually abuse" her.

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Updated Date: Jul 25, 2018 18:55:18 IST

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