’Lay brothers’ on the run after rape charges

’Lay brothers’ on the run after rape charges
India
2010-06-28 17:40:14
Police in the southern Indian state of Kerala have launched a manhunt for two men alleged to be lay Catholic brothers who absconded after being charged with raping four women and a young girl at a spiritual counseling center they ran. The rapes allegedly took place at Karunnya Ashram, an orphanage and spiritual counseling center in Agali, a remote tribal village in Palakkad district. State Director General of police Jacob Punnoose told ucanews.com that the five women, including a 16 year-old, had accused the pair, known as Brother Patrick and Brother Josey, of sexually abusing and mentally torturing them over a three-month period. All the women aged 16-23 were sent to the counseling center by their parents “to correct their wayward ways,” police said. The women ran away from the center on June 26 and were picked up by railway police after trying to board a train at Palakkad railway station. After hearing their stories, the railway police handed them over to local authorities. The women said Patrick, 33 and Josey 28, used to rape, sexually abuse and mentally torture them at night under the pretext of counseling them, investigating officer Rajpal Meena told ucannews.com. Police raided the center and found 35 boys and girls there. “The center didn’t have separate rooms for the girls or boys and were just temporary sheds. The two accused also had no license to run a home for the destitute,” said Girija Surendran, who heads the state’s social welfare board. Local Church officials denied any knowledge of Karunnya Ashram. The center has “nothing to do with the Church,” said Syro-Malabar Church spokesman Father Paul Thelakat. It operated without the knowledge or control of the Church, he said. Related reports Supreme Court puts an end to retreat center probe Police break bible racket in Kerala IB10248.1608
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