A case of rape and molestation has been registered against four priests of Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church in Kerala.

Four priests – Rev. Abraham Varghese, Rev. Joys George, Rev. Job Mathew and Rev. Johnson Mathew are accused of sexually abusing a married woman in Pathanamthitta. All the accused, who were earlier suspended by the church, are absconding.

The scandal has rocked Kerala after it was alleged that the priests used a married woman’s confession to blackmail and sexually exploit her. The state DGP Loknath Behera had ordered a probe by Crime Branch and now a case has been filed.

Earlier, the woman’s husband had complained. Now, the victim has come forward to record her statement with the Crime Branch officials.

The woman's affidavit says that she had a relationship with a priest before marriage, which she confessed to another priest in church during her oldest son’s baptism.

According to her, not only five priests, but four more priests had harassed her. The priest Job Mathew, who heard her confession, allegedly exploited her. It is also alleged that other priests too sexually exploited her when she approached them for counselling.