Child abuse
A priest has been arrested for allegedly raping the child, but was family under pressure to protect him?
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It seems no one had an inkling that she was pregnant. On February 7, 16-year-old Asha* was rushed to a hospital in Kannur where she delivered a baby. She was told that she had been operated upon for appendix.

Three weeks after the delivery, the Kelakom police in Kerala’s Kannur district arrested a Christian priest late on Monday evening, for allegedly raping a 16-year-old girl.

The minor girl was reportedly sexually abused multiple times by Father Robin of a church in Kottiyoor.

But what is unnerving is how the case unfolded. Though the family tried to keep the delivery a secret, Childline officials got wind of it and approached the girl.

Asha told Childline officials that she had been raped by her father.

Soon, police questioned the teenager’s father. “During questioning, the father too kept saying that he molested his child. He was not ready to say much, but only maintained that he was the culprit. But his statement was not matching that of the girl’s. This made us suspicious,” Pradeep, sub-inspector of police told TNM.

When questioned further, the father named the priest.

Father Robin had been working in the church for more than two and a half years. Asha was a student in a school associated with the church.

“The father finally named the priest. We then arrested him and filed a case of POCSO against him,” says the policeman. According to a source in Childline, the teenager too later confessed that the priest was responsible for the pregnancy.

Investigators now believe that the family had tried to save the church and the priest from getting embroiled in a scandal. Asha had attended school till the day before her delivery. On February 7, she was taken to a hospital when she complained of stomach pain. The parents claim that they never realized that their daughter was pregnant. They had taken her to a homeopathy doctor initially when she complained that she was not getting her periods, but later did not bother about it.

However, an officer added that the case was under investigation and the case against the priest had to be proven first with DNA evidence.

Asha has been transferred to a children’s home. Her baby who had been given to an orphanage by Asha’s parents has also been shifted to a government run home.

*- Name changed to protect identity.

Also read: Kerala priest who allegedly raped 16-year-old girl has worked with two media organisations