A key accused in the sex scandal case involving four clergymen attached to the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, Father Abraham Varghese has filed an anticipatory bail application before the Supreme Court on Saturday.

The Crime Branch (CB) had registered a case against Father Varghese and three other priests — Father Job Mathew, Father Johnson V. Mathew, and Father Jaise K. George — on July 2 on the basis of the statements given by a homemaker belonging to the same Church accusing them of sexually assaulting her on more than one occasion. Father Varghese, represented by his lawyer, Karthik Ashok, moved the apex court against a Kerala High Court decision denying him and two other co-accused priests, Father Job Mathew and Father Jaise K. George, anticipatory bail.

The High Court had dismissed their plea and ordered them to surrender forthwith.

The High Court had observed that “prima facie, it appears that the applicants have acted as predators and they have taken undue advantage of the position of the survivor to their advantage. From her version, it appears that the survivor has been systematically abused by the accused, who are all closely known to the family members of the survivor.” The court further said that the apprehensions of the prosecution that the applicants would manage to tamper with the evidence and influence the witnesses could not be ignored.

It also maintained that “the reasonable possibility of the applicants managing to obstruct the course of justice, if released at this stage, cannot be brushed aside.”

The survivor, in her statement, had asserted that her consent was not unequivocal or voluntary. The homemaker alleged that all the four priests had sexually exploited her, misusing her confessional secrets.

The Crime Branch team had arrested two of the accused, Father Job Mathew and Father Johnson V. Mathew, and search was on for the other two accused.

Church stand

Meanwhile, their parent Church had reportedly asked the two priests to surrender before the investigating agency at the earliest. The Church had already made it clear that it would not protect the accused priests.

There were also reports that Father Jaise K. George, based in Delhi, would move for anticipatory bail in the Supreme Court on Monday.

The police had seized their passports to check any attempt by the accused to go abroad.

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