Police on Tuesday arrested a 41-year-old fugitive Catholic priest in Kochi on the charge of repeatedly raping a teenager for more than four months when he was attached with the Kottapuram diocese in north Kerala.
Police said Father Edwin Figarez was on the run for the past six months, since he was accused of paedophilia and sexually abusing a 15-year-old girl, who he had met at the church during prayers.
The crime was revealed when the girl’s school noticed behavioural changes in her and she told her parents about the traumatic ordeal. Her parents immediately approached police and a medical examination confirmed the sexual abuse.
An officer said the class 9 student was abused till March 28, four months since the torment began.
The priest ran away to Dubai in April after the police complaint was filed against him and appealed for bail at the Kerala high court, which initially granted his wish till May 5. He was questioned by police after he returned to India on May 2.
But after the high court rejected his bail plea on May 6, he again ran away. On Tuesday morning, he surrendered before police in Kochi and said he was all along hiding in Bengaluru.
The Kottapuram diocese initially dismissed the allegations against the priest but suspended him after police confirmed the charges.