In the latest development in the ‘sex for silence’ case, where a woman was threatened and sexually abused by five priests, an audio clip of a conversation allegedly between the survivor’s husband and the Malankara Syrian Orthodox church’s Niranam diocese head has been out.
The conservation took place when the survivor’s husband, Eby Varghese (name changed) had apparently approached Yuhanon Mar Chrysostomos Metropolitan in May, with the complaint about the crime.
In the conservation, the bishop can be heard rejecting Eby’s request to give a signed receipt for receiving the complaint he had submitted. The bishop can be heard saying that if he signs it, he would have to immediately forward it to the police, which he does not prefer doing.
“I will enquire about your complaint with the best of my ability. But if I give a receipt for receiving the complaint the moment you leave here, I may need to submit it before the police,” he says.
Eby then can be heard saying that if the bishop will not submit the letter, he will not have proof to substantiate that he had filed the complaint. “I don’t have any evil intention, not because I don’t trust you, but when I take the case forward, I would be asked if I had complained with the Church and if so, I would be required to submit proof for that,” Eby is heard asking the bishop.
The bishop retorts saying that he can be interrogated if anyone needs proof.
Eby’s father, who had accompanied him for the meeting, asked the bishop to forward the complaint to the police, which the bishop opposes.
“I have been telling this for a while that the bishop did not agree to give me a signed paper as a proof of receiving his complaint. Even my father, who was with me, asked the bishop to forward the complaint to the police, but he did not agree with us,” he told TNM.
Eby had allegedly met the head of the diocese in Thiruvalla on May 7. In the days that followed, he met the Thumbamon head of the Church and then Baselios Mar Thomas Paulose II, the supreme head of the Church in Kerala, at its headquarters in Kottayam.
In the complaint, he said that the situation existing in the church is not healthy and that a joint move is needed to put an end to such untoward practices. The woman’s statement was also attached to the complaint.
The main accused in the case, Father Abraham Varghese, had been sexually abusing the woman since the age of 16. The woman, in her statement to the Crime Branch, had said that she was in a relationship with him when she was 16 years old. He went on to become a priest but forced her to continue the relationship, despite being married.
During a secret confession, she confided in Father Job Mathew, the second accused, about the affair. He went on to blackmail and abuse her. Father Johnson Mathew, the third accused, had sent her sexually coloured messages on WhatsApp and sexually assaulted her in the car.