“He threatened him with a knife, even physically assaulted me when I refused to withdraw my complaint given to the seminary,” says a 20-year-old young man in his complaint registered at the Iritty police station.
The young man’s determination to pursue a case of sexual assault has lead to the arrest of 41-year-old Father James Thekkemury, a priest working as a lecturer in Bengaluru.
Fr James Thekkemury has been accused of assaulting the young man in 2015 when he was a rector at the Deiva Matha Seminary at Iritty in Kannur district. After getting dismissed from the seminary, he had joined a college in Bengaluru as guest lecturer.
The victim had joined the seminary in 2012 when he was 16 years old. According to the police, the priest made the first attempt to sexually abuse him in 2015.
Sajesh Vazhalappilly, Iritty circle inspector told The News Minute that the young man was subjected to sexual assault many times later by the priest, and he was unable to return home due to financial problems.
“Fr Thekkemury was expelled from the seminary following the student’s complaint. It was a seminary under an Italian congregation. We have registered a case under IPC Section 377 (unnatural sexual offense), 342 (wrongful confinement) and 506 (criminal intimidation),” Sajesh said.
The priest is under 14 days’ judicial custody now. Police said that other students also had raised complaints against him earlier.
It was also learnt that Fr Thekkemury was expelled from another seminary while he was studying and later he joined the Italian congregation to complete his studies.
“In between the student had gone to Ranji in Jharkhand for a few months for pursuing a course. The accused sent obscene messages and made multiple calls to the victim while he was away. The young man had been threatened multiple times to keep complying to the sexual demands, but he resisted,” the CI said.
He also said that the student had complained that he had been brutally physically attacked by the priest. “The student says the priest even attempted to kill him,” the cop said.