In what can be called as victory for justice, the Thalassery POCSO Court has convicted Fr Robin Vadakkumchery of the Mananthavady diocese, who was accused of raping and impregnating the minor in 2016. The girl gave birth to a child on February 7, 2017.
The case took on several twists and turns after the news broke out, exposing how deep the power network ran within the church as an institution. At one point, owing to the unbearable pressure, the girl’s father had even claimed that he’d raped his own daughter and impregnated her.
The survivor and the mother, too, were declared hostile witnesses by Judge PN Vinod, after they claimed that she had been 18 years of age at the time of the rape. However, the survivor’s live birth certificate from the hospital when she was born established her age at 16. DNA test results on the baby she delivered also proved that Fr Robin was the father of the child.
The survivor was a student at the school where Fr Robin was teaching and had allegedly been raped by him several times in 2016. The abuse led to her giving birth at the Christuraj Hospital, a church run institution in Thokkilangadi, Kannur, on February 7, 2017. While Father Robin was the prime accused in the case, seven other accused had also been booked under POCSO for allegedly helping him cover up the incident. The other accused are Dr Nelliyani Thankamma who assisted in the childbirth, gynaecologist at Christu Raj hospital in Kannur Dr Tessy, paediatrician Dr Hyderali, hospital administrator Ancy Mathew, Dr Liz Maria and Sr. Anita from Christu Dasi convent in Wayanad. Sr. Ophilia, the Superintendent of the Holy infant Mary orphanage at Wayanad where the baby was taken. Sr Ophelia had approached the Kerala High Court seeking anticipatory bail.
The accused priest had been protected by a network of Christian institutions who helped cover up the crime to save their own face. Four of the nuns who were accused of helping to cover up the incident had been absconding. They later surrendered before the police in March.
The church has maintained a stoic silence. After the Kerala government sacked Fr John Therakom from the post of post of Chairman of Child Welfare Committee (CWC) for allegedly helping to cover up the incident, the Archdiocese too later suspended him.
A shocking editorial column published by the Sunday Shalom, the church magazine, attacked the victim and supported the priest.
“Here the partner in the sin is more than 15 years old. Considering her in my daughter’s position I am saying, daughter you too went wrong. You will be the first one answerable before god. Why did you forget who a priest was? Why didn’t you know that the sanctity of a priest is equal to the holiness of Jesus’s heart. He has a human body, he can get temptations. If he might have forgot that for a few seconds, my child who has taken the holy communion, why didn’t you stop or correct him?” the article read.
However finally justice has been done