Even as the Malankara Orthodox Church is mired in an ugly controversy over rape charges against four of its priests, yet another case has now emerged.
On Monday, a 39-year-old woman from Kayamkulam in Alappuzha district accused a priest of the Orthodox Church of raping her in 2014. At the time of the incident, the accused Fr Binu George was serving as the vicar of St. Mary's Orthodox Church (under Malankara Orthodox Church).
According to the woman's complaint to the police, Fr Binu George called her to his office in 2014, on the pretext of discussing a family issue. However, he proceeded to allegedly rape her, said the woman's complaint to Kayamkulam police.
Kayamkulam Sub-Inspector confirmed to TNM that Fr Binu Geroge has been booked on charges of rape.
"He was the vicar at St Mary's church in Olakettiyambalam. According to the woman's complaint, she was raped inside the priest's office in the church premises," the SI said.
The woman in the police complaint filed on Monday has alleged a horrifying cover-up by the Orthodox Church and has detailed its efforts to 'mediate' and bury the case.
According to Sivaprasad, DySP of the District Crime Records Bureau who is heading the investigation team, the survivor and her husband had filed a complaint with the church soon after the crime happened. However, the church held multiple rounds of talks and tried to mediate, after which Fr Binu was transferred out of the church in Alappuzha.
"The woman had complained to the church in 2014 itself. In the presence of a lawyer and the church officials, they struck a compromise and moved the priest out of the church in Alappuzha. He was transferred to Ranni in Pathanamthitta district," the police said.
However, it took the Orthodox Church nearly three years to decide on the transfer. While the complaint was filed in 2014, Fr Binu was given a transfer in May 2017. The church did not report the incident to the police.
Even after Fr Binu was transferred out of Alappuzha, he continued to harass the survivor, she said in her written complaint to the Kayamkulam police.
He allegedly spread rumours about her and tried to defame her by questioning her character.
"Even while giving a speech at the church, Fr Binu began to talk ill about the woman. That's when she proceeded to file a police complaint," the DySP said.
Although TNM reached out to PRO of Malankara Orthodox Church PC Elias, he said that Diocese of Mavelikkara under which the St Mary's Orthodox Church comes, was entitled to give a statement on the issue. Authorities at Diocese of Mavelikkara remained unavailable for comment.