Kerala pastor sentenced to life in jail for raping 13-year-old
A pastor in Kerala was sentenced to life in prison till death by a special court in Thrissur on Friday for raping a 13-year-old girl multiple times over two years.
Pastor Sanil K James, 34, is already serving a 40-year jail term for raping another minor girl.
According to the prosecution, the pastor sexually abused the girl several times at his official residence between 2013 and 2015.
The Thrissur sessions court judge Nixon M Joseph sentenced James, a Salvation Church pastor, under the Pocso Act (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act), observing that such convicts do not deserve sympathy and the sentence should act as a deterrent to others.
The first case came to light during the victim’s counselling session in a school in Peechi. Soon after, the second girl, a 13-year-old, also spoke up with a similar complaint against him. Medical examinations conducted later confirmed sexual abuse.
The victims’ are members of the church carol team and James maintained a good rapport with the parents, who hail a poor background. After repeated abuse for more than two years, the first victim shared her ordeal with the school counsellor. She in turn alerted the police. Later, the police registered two cases against him. In the first case James was convicted in March 2016.
The trial was held in the Pocso court with the victim standing in a specially-erected box to maintain anonymity. The prosecution produced 32 witnesses, medical reports and other material evidences to nail the accused. The accused was staying with his wife and daughter when these incidences took place.
The Salvation Army is part of Protestant Christian church and an international charitable organisation structured in a quasi-military fashion.