St. George Jacobite Cathedral in Adimali. A Jacobite priest from Adimali has been accused of sexual assault. (Photo: Facebook)
A Jacobite priest was remanded to judicial custody on Oct. 13 in India's Kerala state on charges of sexually assaulting a 22-year-old woman.
However, some Jacobite priests said the allegation against Father Reji Palakkadan was part of a conspiracy to tarnish his image.
Police arrested the priest, a practitioner of the traditional Ayurveda medicinal system, following the woman's complaint. She told police the priest sexually assaulted her on Oct. 12 when she went to him seeking medical treatment.
The priest and the woman are based in Adimali town in Idukki district. The priest is also vicar of a Jacobite parish in the district.
"It is completely a false case," said Father Eldhose Pulinchottil, the accused priest's colleague.
The accused had an argument with some three-wheeler taxi drivers over parking their vehicle in front of the priest's clinic in Adimali.
The girl's father and fiancé, also three-wheeler taxi drivers, along with their friends ganged up against the priest. They sent the girl to the clinic and then "framed the false case against him," Father Pulinchottil told UCA News on Oct. 14.
"The priest did not run away even after the complaint was filed. He followed all the processes of the law. We will fight it in the court and will come out clean," Father Pulinchottil asserted.
The case is the latest in a series of clerical sex abuse cases to shock the southern state's Christian community.
In August, the Orthodox church suspended Father Babu Varghese Pookkottil following an allegation that he raped a woman who sought his help over a marital dispute. The priest was a trained family counselor in Wayanad district.
In June 2018, the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church suspended five priests following allegations that they sexually abused a mother of two children by using her confession secrets to blackmail her.
Two Catholic priests were suspended in Mananthavady Diocese following allegations of rape in June. Another priest was suspended in March in Idukki district after being accused of sexually abusing a Catholic mother.
Mananthavady Diocese laicized a priest in July after a court jailed him last year for 20 years. He was convicted of raping and impregnating a minor girl.
In another sensational case, Catholic Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar, a native of Kerala, faces trial in a Kerala court on charges of raping a nun.