Kerala Priest Sentenced To 20 Years In Jail For Raping Minor Girl
In a tight slap to Church’s absolute non-acknowledgement of priests raping young girls and women, the Thalassery POCSO Court has ordered 20 years of imprisonment for Father Robin Vadakkumchery of the Mananthavady diocese for continuously raping a minor girl in 2016. He also impregnated the 16-year-old girl who gave birth to a child on February 7, 2017.
While the court convicted Vadakkumchery, it acquitted six other accused – five nuns from the Christu Raj convent and one administrator who were accused of covering up the incident for lack of substantial evidence.
The rape happened in 2016 when the survivor studied in a school where Vadakkumchery taught. She alleged that he raped her several times in that year after which she conceived the child. She gave birth to the baby at the Christu Raj Hospital, a church-run institution in Thokkilangadi, Kannur.
Police said that the child complained of a stomach ache when she was admitted in the hospital and her parents lied to her saying that she was being operated for appendicitis. The case came to limelight when Kannur Child Helpline received an anonymous letter exposing it.
The court took the verdict after seeing the victim’s birth certificate that showed that she was a minor in 2016 when the rape happened. The DNA report of the infant also proved that Vadakkumchery was indeed the father leaving no space for doubt.
He was under such immense pressure that he was ready to take the blame and owned up to a heinous crime that he had never committed. But soon, he broke down and said that it was Father Robin’s baby, and that has been established beyond doubt with DNA tests.
The case exposed the power dynamics that church authorities are ridden with as at one point, owing to the pressure of the church, the girl’s father admitted that he himself had raped his daughter.
“He was under such immense pressure that he was ready to take the blame and owned up to a heinous crime that he had never committed. But soon, he broke down and said that it was Father Robin’s baby, and that has been established beyond doubt with DNA tests,” a Childline officer had then told TNM.
Even the survivor and her mother became hostile witnesses as declared by Judge PN Vinod because they claimed that she had been 18 years of age at the time of the rape. But the survivor’s live birth certificate from the hospital when she was born established her age at 16.
All this while the church maintains stoic silence on this case as well as the other cases which have come into light in the past few years, uncovering the dirty picture of sexual violence by priests and fathers on nuns across the institution.
Picture credit- Deccan Chronicle