Friday, March 5, 2010

Kerala priest held for sexual abuse of minor



THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A Kerala Christian priest has been arrested for alleged sexual abuse of a minor girl inmate of a hostel run by Orthodox Church at Pothukal in Malappuram district in September last year. The victim is a student of Catholicate Higher Secondary School run by the church.

Father K G Joseph alias Father Habib Joseph was arrested and produced in a local court on Thursday. He, however, was granted bail. Joseph later denied charges. Crime Branch sources said the priest was charged under Section 354 IPC (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), a bailable offence.

Police are also probing the \"unnatural\" death of the girls elder sister, who \"succumbed\" to suspected food poisoning at hostel in October last year. A few days after her death, the 14-year-old class IX student had alleged that she and her elder sister Anu were made to wash feet and massage Joseph and another priest who was a regular visitor to the hostel and that it often ended up with them being sexually harassed.

Though they took up the matter with a nun, she instead of helping, threatened them with dire consequences, the girl had alleged. The two sisters belonging to a poor family of Kelakam in Kannur district thought it better to resign to their fate as otherwise they would have had to discontinue studies.

Sixteen-year-old Anu, a class XI student, died on October 24, 2009. Soon after her death her younger sister had told reporters in the presence of her father that Anju was taken out in a car by the second priest on October 21 and they returned late in the night. Anu looked very tired and was crying and didnt eat anything the next day. This infuriated the nun who beat her up, she had alleged.

The torture was so brutal that there were blood stains on the wall of Anus room, she had alleged.

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