This week a strange but expected (considering the laws of our Bharat) request was received by the Kerala High Court from a convicted rapist of a minor girl, sentenced to three 20 year terms in prison. The request came from none other than a 51 year old former catholic priest attached to the Syro-Malabar diocese of the Catholic Church in Kerala, Father Robin Vadakkumchery. The rapist now in prison wants to marry his rape victim who incidentally is over 30 years younger than him. A similar affidavit was also filed by the victim who is around 20 years old, expressing her ‘consent’ to the marriage. The girl agreeing to the marriage proves the clout the church and such priests enjoy even if they are behind bars.
Gaining fame and prominence
Many felt that the church knew about Robin`s character at least twenty years ago. The church doing nothing to correct him is even more sinister. In fact it was the church itself that took him to such heights of glory, power, wealth and debauchery.
Robin started off as a parish priest in the high ranges of Wayanad district in Kerala. Being a native he already had some clout amongst the locals. With priesthood came unbridled power or so he thought. As Head of the Indian Farmers Movement (INFAM) he started collecting huge sums of money from the local farmers claiming to work for their welfare. The fact that some farmers were tilling government land usurped in the name of the church only helped his cause and Robin knew it too. The farmers were conned into parting with a part of their savings in the name of starting an instant coffee business which never materialised.
There were also allegations of Robin abusing underage girls when he was attached with the St De Paul Church in Kalpetta. The church is also alleged to have paid money to the victims to maintain secrecy and deter them from filing charges. That the church helped hush up these allegations is exactly what emboldened him to keep indulging in pedophilia.
After these incidences he promptly left Wayanad for Delhi, where his diocese assigned him to a local church. Being a good orator helped him immensely and once in Delhi he studied journalism which enhanced his appeal to the general public.
His management skills were well known within the diocese which ultimately led to his call back to Kerala to handle more pressing issues. Jeevan TV and Deepika newspaper both of which were diocese entities were running into huge losses. Mar Mathew Arackal, an influential bishop entrusted Robin with the management of these media houses.
Having gone public, these media entities were open to the public for investment. Until then, Catholics had tight control over the investment in these ventures. This is when Faris Abubaker, a left-leaning Pinarayi Vijayan covert operator was roped in to help out the failing fortunes of the Deepika board. In 2004, Faris invested 10 crores. This was done at the behest of Robin, who in turn was entrusted with management control by Faris. The trust level between both of them was so high that Faris didn’t even have to attend a single board meeting.
VS Achuthanandan, from the CPM was the then CM of Kerala. He had a relatively clean image as opposed to his closest rival in CPM, Pinarayi Vijayan. Pinarayi`s image had considerably eroded since his name had come up in numerous scams starting with the SNC Lavalin case. Led by Robin, a newspaper run by Catholics which had usually avoided political stories made a U-turn. Multiple editorials started appearing on a weekly basis trying to covertly tarnish the image of the CM. Allegations started to surface that these articles were being directly prepared and sent from the CPM party offices.
In mid-2006 allegations of Faris having defrauded a Singapore based health organisation to the tune of 35 crores surfaced. This combined with the fact that Faris and Robin were tarnishing the image of Achuthanandan led to the church having to step in to oust Faris from the board and reclaim control of Deepika by paying off Faris in 2010. Although Robin was relieved of his duties at Deepika it is believed that Faris paid him 2 Crores as compensation. They both remained friends even after this incident.
The diocese sent Robin back to Wayanad and then to Kannur in 2014. He was posted as the vicar of St. Sebastian Church near Kottiyoor. He was also appointed as the Manager of IJM School nearby also run by the same Syro-Malabar diocese.
Sordid tales or rape and conspiracy
In 2016, a 16 year old student of IJM School was being raped continuously by Robin. This led to the underage girl conceiving Robin`s child. On 7th February 2017 the girl delivered a baby at the Christu Raj Hospital in Koothuparamba near Kannur.
The minor had earlier developed severe stomach aches and was admitted to the Christu Raj hospital. Fearing the wrath of the all-powerful Robin and his church, the victim’s parents who belonged to the lowest financial strata of the society hid her pregnancy. The minor was told that it was an operation to remove appendicitis.
The Christu Raj hospital is also owned by the same diocese. Robin donated money to the hospital to buy their silence. Upon receipt of the donation, the hospital agreed to admit the minor. The hospital administrator Ancy Mathew, Gynecologists Tessy Jose and Thankamma Nelliyani and Paediatrician Hyder Ali handled the birth at the hospital. Liz Maria and Sister Anita took Robin`s baby to Wayanad where Sister Ophelia admitted the child to Holy Infant Mary Orphanage. All this was done without the consent of either the child`s mother or her parents.
On the 27th of February, a tipoff alerted officials at Childline, a child helpline owned by the Central Government about this minor and her child. It also mentioned Robin as the father of the child. Serious conspiracy charges were filed against all the above mentioned under the stringent POCSO act.
The police went to the Kottiyoor Church to question Robin but he had escaped. Sensing trouble the priest tried to flee the country with plans to fly to Canada. There were allegations that Faris, the Vatican and other organisations associated with the church were trying their best to help the rapist. He was ultimately arrested at Pudukkad near Trichur. He was on his way to the Kochi airport to make good his escape.
Before the trial began, the perverted priest paid the girl`s parents ten lakh rupees to tell the police that the biological father was the one who had raped and impregnated their own daughter. Their fear of Robin and the church made the poverty stricken family to agree. It was only when the police informed them that they would have to arrest the victim’s father that the victim and her family came out with the truth.
The trial which began on 1st August of 2017 at the Thalassery POCSO court was even more complex. The victim claimed that she had consensual sex with the priest. She blamed the police and the District Magistrate of coercing her to give a false statement under duress. Robin`s advocate even tried to convince the court that she was not a minor when the incident happened. When the victim was asked to undergo age determination tests she refused. The police and prosecution stood their ground. The court observed that since the victim was a minor, any sexual relationship amounted to rape and on the 17th of February 2019 sentenced him to 20 years in jail. Surprisingly the other accused in the case were discharged for lack of evidence. Believers with young girl children meanwhile opinionated that the acquittal was an excellent example of how stringent child protection laws remain elusive in Bharat.
The rot in the church system does not end there. The Sunday Shalom published by the church wrote an editorial defaming the victim. It basically put the blame fairly and squarely on the underage child!
“Here the partner in the sin is more than 15-years-old. Considering her in my daughter’s position I am saying, daughter you too went wrong. You will be the first one answerable before god. Why did you forget who a priest was? Why didn’t you know that the sanctity of a priest is equal to the holiness of Jesus’s heart? He has a human body, he can get temptations. If he might have forgotten that for a few seconds, my child who has taken the Holy Communion, why didn’t you stop or correct him?” the article reads.
The Bishops council (a congregation of the 9000 plus priests in Kerala) were nonchalant in their response. They vaguely blamed consumerism and the Media!
“Consumerism is indeed a situation affecting everyone in the world and priests are also a part of the world. It is in celibacy and in virginity the crisis became apparent first, then it will become a crisis of fidelity in marriage with extra-marital and premarital sex. Women are presented as commodity both in media and in advertisements and all commodities are marketed with girls and women where human body is dehumanised,” Fr. Paul Thelekat of the Bishops Council wrote.
That the pope took his own time to disown this rapist didn’t surprise many. The Vatican issued a statement on the 5th of December, a full 10 months after the conviction dismissing Robin from priesthood.
(Featured Image Source: Swarajya Mag)
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