Kerala HC denies bail to priest in sexual harassment case, says cruel people using kids to satisfy lust
Kerala High Court on Tuesday dismissed the anticipatory bail plea filed by Father Edwin Figarez, a Christian priest accused of sexually harassing a minor girl at Puthenvelikkara of Ernakulam district. HC has observed that child abuse rate in the state is increasing as some of these cruel people are using children to satisfy their lust. The court observed that while hearing the bail plea the priest did not deny the accusation. According to The New Indian Express report, court also stated that the accused in the case is a priest who is supposed to instill moral values in others and prevent people from committing crimes. The report also says that the petition filed by Figerez seeking bail states that the case was cooked by some of his colleagues to defame him. “It was two co-priests who insisted the mother of the girl to file a case against Fr Figarez, because they were envious of the wide acceptance of the petitioner as the Dhyana Guru. Their intention was to harm his reputation” says the petition according to the reports. The allegation against Fr Figarez is that he sexually enticed a 14-year-old girl many times, usually when she visited him for confession. According to the police, the mother of a Class 9 student lodged a complaint against Figarez, a priest with the Lourdes Matha Church, Puthenvelikkara on April 1. The police say that a medical examination of the victim had confirmed that she was sexually abused. Though in the beginning the diocese denied the charges against the priest, spokesperson of Kottapuram diocese Father Rocky Roby told The News Minute that the accused priest is under temporary suspension as a result of the primary investigation done by the diocese. “As per the rule of the catholic church we will conduct internal investigations in these issues. In this case we did a primary investigation and sent our report to Rome for further decision making. Another team has started a detailed enquiry in to the issue, till the probe get over he will remain suspended from the Catholic Ministry,” he told TNM. Meanwhile the accused reportedly went in to hiding since the case came in to light. “The accused fled to Dubai on April 2, a day after the girl's mother filed a complaint. When we checked his passport number with emigration sections in different airports, we found that the accused had flown to Dubai from Bengaluru airport,” said the Vadakkekara circle inspector P K Manoj Kumar, who leads investigation in the case. Police also accused that a relative of the priest, helped him to retrieve his belongings from the church and then to leave the country. “He will also be included as accused in the charge sheet for helping the priest to flee,” Kumar said.