The Kerala High Court yesterday granted bail to the priest Johnson V Mathew arrested for allegedly abusing a married woman in Pathanamthitta district.
Johnson V Mathew, of the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church, was arrested and charged under Section 354 (outraging modesty of a woman) of the Indian Penal Code.
This priest is the third accused in the rape case, involving three more priests of the church, who moved the High Court seeking bail after a magistrate court in Thiruvalla had turned down his plea. Granting bail, Justice Rajavijayaraghavan directed the priest to surrender his passport, cooperate in the investigation and not to enter the limits of the police station where the victim resides.
The Crime Branch probing the case had earlier arrested Mathew. He had surrendered after the High Court dismissed his anticipatory bail plea and that of two other priests, observing they acted as “predators” and took “undue advantage” of the woman.
The two other priests, accused in the case, have moved the Supreme Court seeking anticipatory bail. The incident came to light after an audio clip of the purported conversation of the husband of the victim with a church official about the alleged sexual abuse of his wife by the priests was circulated on social media.