The West Godavari Police in Andhra Pradesh have filed a petition in an Eluru district court, seeking permission to register a case against pastor Didde Ebenezer, who allegedly confined and sexually assaulted several women.
An investigation into Didde Ebenezer, said to be around 40-years old, had uncovered some dark stories, including allegations that he had kept several women in captivity.
The pastor's victims resided at Jagannadhapuram village in Tadepalligudem mandal of West Godavari district.
The AP Womenâ€™s Commission chairperson Nannapaneni Rajakumari visited the village earlier this week, after a local media channel aired allegations that a pastor had sexually assaulted many women in the area.
According to the locals, the pastor claimed that he could speak to God, and would invite women who wanted to speak to him, to visit his residence at night. He would make the 'offer' only to women, and set one condition.
The women had to 'serve' him, as he claimed to be the son of god. The 'service', according to locals included body massages and nude prayers in candlelight.
People in the area told police that he was powerful and conniving enough to convince the women and isolate them from their families.
In 2015, during one such prayer, he allegedly misbehaved and molested a woman devotee, following which she complained to the police.
However, Ebenezer managed to secure bail. He stayed for a bit in Jagannadhapuram village, before he moved out to Madduru village in Kovvur mandal of West Godavari district.
In August this year, the court acquitted him.
While the police said that the witness' statement was not strong enough, locals allege that the pastor had pulled strings to influence the verdict.
The AP Womenâ€™s Commission took note of the incident and visited the village, where several victims came forward to narrate heart-breaking tales of sexual assault.
"We will immediately take him into custody, and free the women who are allegedly under confinement. We all had tears in our eyes when we heard the victims speak. This is not a normal incident. He has played with people's life in a holy place like a church. We will prosecute him," AP Womenâ€™s Commission chairperson Nannapaneni Rajakumari told locals after the public meeting.
While a case has been registered against Ebenezer for threatening a complainant under Section 506 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC, no complainant has come forward for the other alleged crimes he committed.
"We have filed the petition but since it is the weekend, the case will come for hearing soon. Usually in such cases where there is a lack of written complainants, the police needs the court's directions for investigation. Once the court grants us permission, we will proceed further, and register an FIR," SI Srinivas from the Tadepalligudem rural police station told TNM.
Meanwhile, three women were rescued from his church after they said that they were there against their will. The rest of the women returned after counselling, when they said that they were staying with the pastor of their own free will.
Ebenezer is presently absconding and the police is on the lookout for him.