3 arrested for helping rape charge Indian priest

3 arrested for helping rape charge Indian priest
In this photograph taken on February 28, 2017, Indian police officials escort priest Robin Vadakkumchery (C) after his arrest in Peravoor, some 300kms north of Kochin in the southern Indian state of Kerala.
PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI - Two nuns and a priest accused of covering up the birth of a baby born to a teenage girl who was allegedly raped by another priest have been arrested in India, police said Friday.

All three handed themselves in to police in the southern state of Kerala where they were being questioned over allegations they deliberately hid the birth at a hospital run by the Catholic church and took the baby to an orphanage.

Under Indian law, hospitals and orphanages must report all teenage pregnancies and births to authorities.

They surrendered two weeks after Robin Vadakkumchery was arrested on charges of raping the 16-year-old, who gave birth in February.

Six more people believed to have helped the victim give birth are still on the run.

The girl told investigators that the priest raped her at a church-run school last year.

She and her family said they were unaware of the pregnancy until she complained of stomach pain and was taken to hospital, where she gave birth.

A child rights organisation tipped off police about the secret delivery, triggering an investigation that revealed the alleged involvement of the priest, nuns and other officials.

It is not the first time the Catholic church in Kerala has faced accusations of sexual abuse.

Two autobiographies by former Catholic nuns have in recent years revealed the scale of sexual exploitation by priests and the prevalence of same-sex relations in convents.

Last year, a priest was sentenced to 40 years in prison by a Kerala court for raping a 12-year-old girl in 2014.

Nearly one-fifth of the coastal state's 34 million people follow Christianity.

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