The father of a girl in India who was allegedly raped by a Catholic priest falsely claimed he committed the crime daughter in order to save the religious leader from disgrace, according to reports.
Police in Kerala said the biological father of a 17-year-old victim told them he was guilty of raping her last May, but it has since emerged that this was a lie in attempt to protect the reputation of a local priest, NDTV reported.
Robin Vadakkuncheril, bishop of the Mananthavady Diocese in Kerala, was arrested at the end of February on charges of raping the teenager last year, in what has been described as the worst sex scandal in the history of Kerala’s Catholic establishment.
Following the arrest of Mr Vadakkuncheril, 48, the girl’s father told the Indian Express: “The priest betrayed our family and our faith in the Church. After my daughter delivered the baby, he wanted someone to take responsibility for the birth. How could I find someone for this job?
“Finally, I had to falsely state that I was the father of my daughter’s baby. As a believer, I also wanted to avoid the disgrace falling on the priest and the Church."
The father, a farm labourer, added that when he discovered his claim to have raped his own daughter would lead to years of imprisonment, he decided to report what he said was the truth.
The girl, who recently gave birth to the baby, told police the priest had raped her in the place where the church provided computer lessons.
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The world's 15 most powerful women in 2015
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Investigating officer Sunil Kumar said police are searching for at least five nuns who allegedly helped the priest cover up the rape and subsequent pregnancy.
The case is one of several in which Indian priests have been accused of abusing minors, indicating that scandals that have convulsed the Catholic Church in the United States, Europe and Latin America have not spared Asia.
In 2011, the Asian bishops' conference convened a special meeting on abuse and warned that “drastic and immediate measures” were needed to deal with the issue.