A Kerala church priest accused of raping and impregnating a minor has been convicted by a local court on Friday. Fr Robin Vadakkumcherry, the prime accused in the Kottiyoor rape case, has been held guilty of sexually exploiting and impregnating a 16-year-old girl in Kottiyoor in Kerala's Kannur district.
He has been sentenced to 20 years' rigorous imprisonment. He has been slapped with a fine of Rs 3 lakh. The court has also ordered criminal proceedings against the victim's parents. The girl's custody has been given to Legal Services Society. The other six accused have been acquitted.
The notorious rape case from Kottiyoor came to light after the victim delivered a baby boy in December 2016, at Christuraja Hospital in Kuthuparamba in Kannur. After the Childline India officials intimated the police, a case was registered on February 27, 2017, by the Peravoor police. The girl was then shifted to an adoption centre in Vythiri, Wayanad.
When the police questioned, the 16-year-old girl's father admitted to raping his daughter and the girl also admitted the same. However, it was on the basis of secret information received at the NGO Childline that Fr Robin Vadakkumchery was arrested.
Though 10 people were initially arrested in the case, two doctors and an administrator of the hospital were later removed from the list of accused after they approached the Supreme Court. They had led a petition in the apex court the very same day the trial in the case commenced in the POCSO court, Thalassery, on August 1, 2017.
The accused in the case were Fr Robin, Thankamma, Sr Lis Maria of Christudas convent, Sr Anita of Kallumutty convent, Fr Thomas Joseph Therakam, former chairman of Wayanad Child Welfare Committee (CWC), Dr Sr Betty Jose, a CWC member, and Sr Ophelia, the superintendent of the Holy Infant Mary Mandiram, Vythiri.
The victim as well as her family had turned hostile in the case. However, the prosecution relied on the statement of the government doctor and established that the girl was a minor and that the sexual relation, even if it had the minor's consent, could only be considered a rape.
The statement of the doctor was crucial when the victim as well as the CWC turned hostile and gave statements in favour of Fr Robin.