The Kerala high court on Wednesday rejected the anticipatory bail applications of the three priests accused of raping a woman over several years.

The high court had earlier reject the bail plea of the fourth accused priest.

Observing that the priests appeared to have “acted as predators”, the court said there was no reason to ignore the 34-year-old complainant’s statement that the accused used her secret confession to threaten and sexually exploit her.

A senior police officer said search was on to nab the absconding priests.

The Malankara Orthodox Church has distanced itself from the four priests, stating that it won’t protect them. The church has asked them to surrender before the police.

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