In a recent development, the Catholic Church has ordered Father James Erthayil to step down, after a leaked audio tape was found where the priest was trying to intimidate and influence a key eye witness; of the alleged sexual exploitation case against the Jalandhar Bishop Frank Mullakkal, reported sources.
According to reports, Catholic Church’s Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI), where Father James Erthayil belongs, released a statement terming the incident as unfortunate, and also clarified the stand of the Church by saying that the Church was not connected with the incident in any manner and has nothing to do with the alleged offer made to the nun.
Meanwhile, the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate statement that was released stated, “Father James has been asked to step down. An inquiry has been initiated.”
However, the Kerala police have been at the receiving end of flak from various political parties including the CPI (M) for the delay in taking action in the case.
Furthermore, according to the alleged leaked audio tape a conversation takes place between Sister Anupama from the Missionaries of Jesus in Kottayam and Father James Erthayil, a part of the Kanjirappally diocese. In the tape, courtesy youtube, the Priest is believed to be trying to influence the nun to withdraw support to the survivor, and is promised to be given a convent as a return favour.
India Aware, could not independently verify the authenticity of the leaked audio tape and no confirmation was available from the authorities in this regard.
According to reports, in the leaked tape the priest is heard telling the nun that he was trying to meet her, he is also heard telling her that he was told by people that the Jalandhar diocese would build a convent for 8-10 nuns. Furthermore, the priest is heard insinuating that the nuns stand a chance of being ostracised by their families as they were trying to support a rape survivor.
However, as reported, the SP of Kottyam, Harishankar said, “We have booked him under non-bailable offences after getting the nod from the Pala first class judicial magistrate court,” The SP also informed that a team will be sent to Jalandhar to question Bishop Frank Mullakkal.
Earlier, according to sources, a 43-year-old nun in a statement had complained that the bishop of Jalandhar had physically and sexually abused her after she was summoned, under the pretext of discussing an important issue in the year 2014, by the bishop.
The nun, according to sources, also stated in her complaint that she was, for next two years, raped 13 times by the bishop. The nun further complained that she had made complains to the church authorities in this regard last December, however, the authorities inaction has now forced her to file the police complaint.