Rape charge against Kerala priest: Survivor accuses police of trying to weaken her case
The 45-year-old Kerala woman, who has accused a Catholic priest of raping her in 2017, said the police recorded her statement in Kozhikkode district in a shabby manner.Updated: Feb 18, 2020 05:10 IST
A 45-year-old Kerala woman, who has accused a Catholic priest of raping her in 2017, on Monday alleged that police on December 5 recorded her statement “in a most unprofessional manner” before undertrials and others at a police station as part of “serious attempts” to weaken the case.
The woman filed her complaint against Thamarassery Diocese’s Father Manoj Jacob Plakootam in December alleging he raped her in June 2017. She said she had complained to the diocese but was advised to hush up the matter. The woman said she later went abroad with her husband and filed the rape complaint upon her return to India on December 4.
The woman said the police recorded her statement in Kozhikkode district in a shabby manner. “Many people were around and they repeatedly asked the same question to embarrass me. Some undertrials were also there. I was in tears while narrating my plight, but it seems they were enjoying it,” she said. She said some of them indirectly told her it was not good to pursue such cases against “powerful people”.
She accused the church of letting her down badly and added the police were doing the same. “I really feel there is a collusion between the two. The accused was sent abroad for studies deliberately. I have suffered a lot and I will pursue this case come what may,” she said. She added she has faced intimidation and threats.
Plakootam, whose bail plea will come up for hearing in the Kerala High Court next week, is in Italy. He filed the plea through his lawyer in January. He had left the country before the case was filed in December.
The local police refused to comment on the issue while top officers said they would not speak until they have the full details of the case.
Thamarassery Diocese spokesman, Father Mathew Kolaparambil, said the church stripped Plakootam, who was Nitya Sahaya Matha Church’s vicar in Chevayur when he allegedly raped the woman, of all positions after the complaint surfaced. He added the church was cooperating fully with the police and did not want to comment further.
Circle Inspector K Shambhunath, who is investigating the case, said the priest was booked under the Indian Penal Code’s Section 376 (rape) in December and efforts were on to trace him.
Sister Jesme, an activist who quit the church 10 years back, said there are strict guidelines for recording statements in rape cases. “Her privacy should be guarded at any cost. This is really shocking. What else you expect when money and muscle power come together,” she said.
Activist and psychologist Mala Parvati said in many cases often police officers find fault with the victim first not the accused. “There are strict guidelines to protect them from further embarrassment but they remain only on paper. Repeated harassment at police stations often forces some to withdraw their complaints. This is nothing in new even in a state like Kerala.”
The rape case surfaced over a year after Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mullakal was arrested in 2018 for allegedly raping a nun. The trial, in this case, is set to begin from February 26 even as Mullakal moved court last month with a plea to have charges against him dropped.