Police arrest 1 church priest in rape case in southern India

NEW DELHI (AP) — Police on Thursday arrested one of the four church priests accused of raping a woman over years in southern India.

The accused surrendered to the police, who arrested him after questioning, the Press Trust of India news agency said. Police also were questioning another priest in Kollam, a city in Kerala state, and looking for two other accused.

They were denied pre-arrest bail by a court on Wednesday. Justice R. Vijayaraghavan said that the evidence indicates the priests acted as predators. "They appeared to have undertaken undue advantage of the position of the complainant," the justice said.

The priests deny the accusation. There was no immediate comment by their Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church.

The complainant's husband told reporters that he came to know about the abuse in February this year when he noticed a bank statement about a hotel transaction in his wife's email inbox.

His wife filed a police complaint early this month saying she was abused by the priests following a confession she made in the church a decade ago.

"The main culprit promised to marry her and continued to manipulate her. He was a student at that time. Even after finishing his seminary and becoming a priest, he continued the same pattern. Even after we got married in 2006, the priest continued to sexually abuse my wife, blackmail her, saying that he would tell me everything. I got to know all this only in February," the husband told the New Delhi television news channel in an interview on Thursday.

The case came to light after an audio clip of the purported conversation of the complainant's husband with a church official about the alleged sexual abuse of his wife by the priests was widely circulated on social media, the Press Trust of India said.