A pastor in Kerala’s Salvation Army Church in Peechi was found guilty of raping a 13-year-old minor dalit girl. The sentence was delivered at a Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) court in Thrissur on May 12. Sessions judge Nickson M. Joseph is yet to deliver the punishment.

Pastor Sanal K James, 35, was found guilty of raping the victim on several occasions between 2013-2015 at his official residence. Earlier, the pastor was sentenced to 20 years of rigorous jail time for raping a 12-year- old girl. The judge also slapped a fine of Rs 20,000 on the accused. It was the first time that such a harsh judgement was made in the POSCO court.

The pastor, a native of Kottayam, reportedly raped his other victim when she went to his official residence to deliver herbal medicine.

Deccan Chronicle reported that the pastor has been found guilty under POSCO and the IPC. However, his sentencing is still awaited.  

During the hearing, the victim stood in a box so that her identity wouldn’t be revealed to the public. Public prosecutor Pious Matthew appeared on behalf of the victim. The prosecution provided 32 witnesses, 16 documents and four pieces of evidence.