Raju Kokken, a 40-year-old Catholic priest at Saint Paul’s Church in Thaikkattussery in Thrissur in Kerala, who was on the run since parents of a nine-year-old girl accused him of allegedly raping their daughter on April 25, was arrested from Poothappady in Nagercoil in Tamil Nadu on Sunday.
He was hiding at the house of a relative to evade the arrest.Kerala Police’s Shadow Police wing took into custody the priest with the help of Tamil Nadu Police. His arrest was registered after the police brought him to Thrissur on Sunday.
According to Ollur police, the nine-year-girl was lured by the priest with the promise of free vestments for her holy communion and the vicar raped the girl thrice in April in his office room.
The girl, who hails from a poor family, was forced to go naked before him when the vicar asked her to remove her clothes in the pretext to check whether the Holy Communion dress fits her or not.
The girl told police that she was sexually assaulted thrice by the priest afterwards. The girl said the priest took her naked photos on his mobile phone too.
Police registered a case against the vicar under various non-bailable sections of the IPC and Section 66 (A) of Information Technology Act.
Meanwhile, following the complaint and after an internal inquiry, Thrissur Arch Diocese ousted the priest from the church. The priest, on the run since April 25, reached Alwaye from Thrissur and escaped to Nagercoil the same day.
There were public protests in Kerala for delay in arresting the priest even after a week. According to police, they got a clue about his whereabouts from his mobile phone signal.
“His mobile phone was switched of for three days, but on the fourth day he called home from that number. We reached Nagarcoil after tracing his mobile signals,” said a police officer.
Meanwhile, Hunny, 35, a pastor from Thrissur, was arrested on charges of molestation bid. The girl who came to his divine retreat centre at Parali in Palakkad was force to have sex with him in Coimbatore on February 3 after he promised to marry her.
But after the incident, the pastor distanced from her and threatened to kill her if she revealed the incident to anyone. The girl revealed the incident later to her close friends and with the help of an NGO, she lodged a complaint. The pastor was arrested on Sunday.
In another case, on April 30, Kerala Police arrested a pastor, Sajan Mathai, 40, hailing from Ranni in Pathanamthitta on charges of raping a girl on February 23. He was arrested following the complaint of a 17-year-old girl hailing from Mundakkayam in Kottayam district. The incident came to light after the victim became pregnant. Police said the pastor raped the girl during the annual celebration of Israel Pentecost Church in Punchavayal.