A woman in north Kerala who filed a rape case against a Catholic priest two months ago, on Monday alleged that there were serious attempts to sabotage the case and accused the police of recording her statements "in most unprofessional manner" in the presence of undertrials and others at the police station.
The 45-year-old woman who is a housewife, had filed a complaint against Father Manoj Jacob Plakootam of Thamarassery diocese on December 4 last year alleging that he had raped her on June 15, 2017 at her rented home. She said she had complained to the diocese but she was advised not to reveal it to anyone. She said she later went abroad with her husband and filed a complaint last December on her return.
"In Chevayur (Kozhikkode district) police station they recorded my statement in a shabby manner. Many people were around and they repeatedly asked the same question to embarrass me. Some undertrials were also there. I was in tears while narrating my plight but it seems they were enjoying it," she told a local television channel.
She said some of them indirectly told her it was not good to pursue such cases against "powerful people."
"The church let me down badly and now police are also toeing the same line. I really feel there is collusion between the two. The accused was sent abroad for studies deliberately. I have suffered a lot and I will pursue this case come what may," she said adding she faced enough intimidation and threats.
At the time of the alleged crime, Father Plakootam was the vicar of the Nitya Sahaya Matha church in Chevayur.
When contacted, diocese spokesman Father Mathew Kolaparambil said the church had stripped him of all positions after the complaint surfaced.
"Church authorities are co-operating fully with the police and he did not want to comment about the case," he said.
The accused who has been absconding has moved a bail plea in the Kerala High Court through his counsel. The police officer investigating the case said the priest was booked under section 376 of the Indian Penal Code and efforts were on to trace him.
Two years ago a senior bishop was also embroiled in a similar case. In 2018 Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mullakal was arrested by the state police in a rape case filed by the nun of the same diocese. Later he was removed from the post. As the trial was about to begin, he filed a discharge petition last month claiming to be innocent.