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Probe into alleged sex abuse by priest

Archdiocese denies claims and is accused of cover-up

The pastoral center where the accused priest is a director The pastoral center where the accused priest is a director
  • ucanews.com reporter, Bhopal
  • India
  • October 16, 2012
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Police in Madhya Pradesh state are to investigate a complaint that a Catholic priest sexually exploited his maid for months.

Additional Director General of Police Vijay Yadav announced the action after meeting a delegation of Catholic lay people yesterday in the state capital, Bhopal. He promised that the probe would be “fair and unbiased.”

Sheela Santiago, who led the delegation, told ucanews.com today that they went to the police after the local Church hierarchy and the Vatican ignored their demand for justice for the victim, a tribal woman.

The delegation provided a recording in which the woman narrates her ordeal and asks for help, along with a copy of its written complaint to the Vatican.

Bhopal archdiocesan spokesperson Father P. J. Johny dismissed the allegation as an attempt to malign the Church.  He said the archdiocese had probed the complaint and the priest had denied the charges.

Santiago and the delegation responded by accusing Fr. Johny and Leo Cornelio, Archbishop of Bhopal, of covering up the case.

According to the woman’s complaint, Fr. Abraham Maria Michael, director of the archdiocesan pastoral center, had sexual contact with her for several months but fired her when the affair became public.

Asked why the victim did not go to the police earlier, Santiago said she was too afraid, as she was under pressure from the priest.

Jerry Paul, another member of the delegation, said that all they want is “a fair probe to know the truth.”

He added: “If the woman is lying she should be punished for tarnishing the image of a priest and the Church. If the priest is guilty he should be taken to task for the offense.”

Related report

Indian layman arrested for child abuse
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