Sunday, October 31, 2010

Jesuit priest charged with rape
Jesuit priest seeks bail after rape allegation

A Jesuit priest has sought anticipatory bail after police in a southern Indian state registered a rape case against him.

On Oct. 12, a former nun accused Father Rathinam Rajarathinam, principal of Jesuit-managed St. Joseph’s College in Trichy, Tamil Nadu, of raping her, reports.

She filed a complaint with the All Women Police Station that specializes in crimes against women. According to her case, the priest raped her in 2006 and in 2008 and continuously threatened her not to tell anyone.

On Oct. 18, a court in Madurai asked the police to submit the nun’s original complaint to her congregation and adjourned the case to Oct. 27.

Father Rajarathinam, who belongs to the Jesuit Madurai province, has since resigned from his post.

The news received wide coverage in Indian media and some newspapers in Tamil Nadu carried it on their front page.

Soon, posters appeared in Madurai with some groups demanding action against the priest while others maintained he was being framed for being a dalit (former untouchable caste).

A press release from Madurai provincial Father M. Devadoss said Father Rajarathinam had requested to be relieved for a month pending completion of an investigation against him.

The nun’s complaint says the priest had invited her to the college guest house, raped her after sedating her. Later he blackmailed her with the claim that photos he had taken of the sexual act would be made public.

It also states that the nun had become pregnant and had undergone an abortion.

Sources in the Jesuit congregation say the nun and the priest had known each other for some time because they met often at a college for classical music and dance.

The nun was attending music training and the priest is into classical music and has released a few music albums.

The sources also said the Jesuit provincial had set up a one-man inquiry committee to investigate the case the day the incident came to light. However, nothing concrete has emerged.

The police have announced that they are investigating the case and the local courts have ordered a medical examination of the former nun.

Jesuit Father Susai Pitchai, rector of the college, told on Oct. 18 that Father Rajarathinam has taken medical leave. “We are investigating the complaint and awaiting court orders,” he added.

Susairaj Martin, a lawyer representing the nun’s congregation, said she was expelled in this August after she gave a statement about getting pregnant and undergoing an abortion.

She was expelled as per canon law, he said and added, the congregation has nothing to do with this issue and it is very sad they are dragged into it.

Father Vincent Chinnadurai of the state Minority commission termed the controversy as “an unfortunate development” that has damaged the Church’s image.

He also said the controversy teaches priests and nuns to respect each other’s religious calling.

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