Kerala priest sentenced to 20-year imprisonment for raping minor


A former vicar of a Catholic church near here was Saturday sentenced to 20 years of rigorous imprisonment for raping and impregnating a minor in 2016. Thalassery POCSO Court Judge P S Vinod also slapped a fine of Rs 3 lakh on Robin Vadakkencheril (51). The accused was sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment each under various sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and the Indian Penal Code (IPC). These sentences would run concurrently. The girl had later given birth to a baby boy at a private hospital in Kuthuparamba in Kannur and was shifted to an orphanage at Vythiri in neighbouring Wayanad district. Half of the fine amount will be given to the victim. The court has awarded the sentence under various provisions of the POCSO Act and Section 376 (2) (f) (rape of girl under 12 years) of the IPC. The court also directed initiation of criminal proceedings against the girls parents who had turned hostile in the case. Initially, the biological father of the victim was framed in the case as the prime accused. Six other accused in the case, including former chairman of the Wayanad Welfare Committee, Fr Thomas Joseph Therakam, a committee member Betty Jose and superintendent of the orphanage at Wayanad Sister Ophelia, were acquitted for lack of evidence. Two doctors and a hospital administrator were also acquitted. They were charged under the POCSO Act for allegedly covering up the crime, not reporting it to police and destroying evidence after they had come in contact with the rape victim. According to the prosecution, the priest had impregnated the minor when she was studying in class 11 in 2016. She gave birth to a child in 2017 and the baby was shifted to a welfare home nearby. The matter came into light when the district childline authorities got an anonymous telephone call about the incident.

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