A POCSO Court in Kerala has convicted Fr Robin Vadakkumchery of the Mananthavady diocese for raping and impregnating a 16 year old minor in 2016. The girl gave birth to a child on Februay 7, 2017. The victim was a student at the school where the priest used to serve as a teacher. Fr Robin Vadakkumchery, abused the minor several times in 2016, which led to her getting pregnant.
The minor was admitted to church run Christu Raj hospital, after she complained of stomach ache. The victim’s patents kept her in dark and told that she was being operated for appendicitis. The child was admitted to an orphanage.
During their two year long fight for justice, the victim and her family had to go through various terrifying expirences. They were practically fighting against an entire system of Christian institutions which was hell bent on protecting the criminal. At one point, the victim’s father almost gave up to the immense pressure applied on him by both Christian institutions and community and tried to take the blame on himself.
“He was under such immense pressure that he was ready to take the blame and owned up to a heinous crime that he had never committed. But soon, he broke down and said that it was Father Robin’s baby, and that has been established beyond doubt with DNA tests,” a Childline officer had told news portal, TNM. The DNA tests later conducted on the baby established that the priest was indeed the father.
Apart from the Priest, Court has also found seven others guilty of being involved with the crime. The other accused are Dr Nelliyani Thankamma who assisted in the childbirth, gynaecologist at Christu Raj hospital in Kannur Dr Tessy, paediatrician Dr Hyderali, hospital administrator Ancy Mathew, Dr Liz Maria and Sr. Anita from Christu Dasi convent in Wayanad. Sr. Ophilia, the Superintendent of the Holy infant Mary orphanage at Wayanad where the baby was taken. Sr Ophilia had approached the Kerala High Court seeking anticipatory bail.
The Church’s role however has not been beyond suspicion either. Throughout all this, the Church did not only maintain utmost silence over the crime but also occasionally voiced support for the accused. A shocking editorial published in Church backed publication, the Sunday Shalom had went on to the extent of blaming the survivor, while calling the accused’s sanctity to be equal to Jesus’s heart.
“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 forgot that for a few seconds, my child who has taken the holy communion, why didn’t you stop or correct him?” the article read.