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05 December 2023

Indian priest held for rape after minor delivers baby


An Indian priest was arrested on charges of raping a teenager in southern India after the 16-year-old victim gave birth to a baby, police said Tuesday.

Father Robin Vadakkumchery was arrested late Monday after the teenage girl gave birth in a surprise delivery, alleging that the priest had assaulted her at a church-run school in southern Kerala state.

"The girl accused the priest of sexual assault and he was arrested after being on the run for two weeks," Prajish Thottathil, a senior police officer in the victim's home town told AFP.

The victim and her family were unaware of the pregnancy but visited the hospital after she complained of stomach pains on February 7, the officer said.

A child rights charity reported the secret delivery to the police leading to an investigation that revealed the alleged involvement of the priest.
The family had abandoned the newborn at an orphange, police said.

Both the baby and the mother have now been sent to a government-run welfare home.

Sex — whether consensual or otherwise — with a person below 18 years of age is considered rape under India's stringent child protection laws.

Some 20,000 minors were raped or sexually assaulted in India in 2015, according to government data.