Kollam (Ker): Job Mathew, the vicar of a local church, who was accused with three
other clergymen of sexually abusing a woman, was on Thursday arrested soon after he surrendered to the police, officials said.
The arrest was made after the priest, belonging to the Malankara Orthodox Syrian church, was questioned by crime branch officials, they said.
"The priest has been arrested and we are trying to track down two other absconding priests," a senior police official said.
Mathew, the second accused in the case, was not wearing his robe and was seen hiding his face inside a police vehicle while being taken for medical examination.
The clergyman surrendered a day after the Kerala High Court dismissed the anticipatory bail pleas of three priests, including him, observing they acted as "predators" and took "undue advantage" of the victim woman.
The priests-- Abraham Varghese alias Sony, Job Mathew and Jaise K George-- had approached the court soon after the crime branch slapped rape charges against four clergymen named by the alleged victim as her tormentors.
The FIR was registered against the priests by the crime branch after recording the woman's statement. The woman's husband had last month accused five priests of using his wife's secret confession to "blackmail and sexually abuse" her.
The name of the fifth cleric was not included for want of substantial evidence.
The incident came to light after an audio clip of the purported conversation of the husband of the alleged victim with a church official about the alleged sexual abuse of his wife by the priests was widely circulated on social media.