July 13, 2018
KOCHI: The Kerala police arrested Fr. Johnson V. Mathew, accused of sexually abusing a woman, at Kozhencherry in Pattanamthitta on Friday. He is the second priest to be arrested in the case.
Fr. Johnson, the third accused, was arrested by a team led by Deputy Superintendent of Police Josey Cherian. He was later taken to Thiruvalla Crime Branch office for questioning.
The second accused in the case, Fr. Job Mathew, surrendered before the Deputy Superintendent of Police (Crime Branch) at Kollam on Thursday, and was remanded.
Police have appealed to the lawyers of the accused to advice their clients to surrender before the magistrate court. They have also warned the public not to shelter the accused.
The prime accused in the case, Fr. Abraham Verghese, and the fourth accused, Fr. Jaise K. George, – who had approached the court for bail soon after the Crime Branch slapped rape charges against the four priests – are yet to surrender.
Police raided Fr. Abraham’s house.
The High Court, on Thursday, dismissed the bail pleas of the three priests saying there was prima facie evidence against them.
The priests are accused of blackmailing and sexually abusing a woman for several years. In a letter to the church in June, the woman’s husband from Thiruvalla in Pathanamthitta district, claimed that the priests used his wife’s confession, which is meant to be a secret under church laws, to blackmail her and sexually abuse her.
Meanwhile, Director-General of Police Loknath Behera told reporters in Kochi that Franco Mulakkal, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Jalandhar, will be soon arrested. “Police are engaged in collecting evidence against him. Once we get enough proof, the Bishop will be arrested,” he said.
In her complaint against Franco Mulakkal. a Catholic nun alleged that he raped her at a guest house in Kuravilangad in 2014. She also said he raped her 13 times in two years.
The nun belonged to an institution that functions under the Jalandhar Diocese.