New Delhi, June 26: Five priests of Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church in Kerala were sent off on leave after they were accused of sexually abusing and blackmailing a woman over the last few years. The woman’s husband, in his complaint, had alleged that his wife’s confession to one of the accused priests was supposed to be a secret but was rather used to blackmail her. Also Read - Kerala Govt Decides to Bring Out Ordinance to Withdraw Amendment to Kerala Police Act

“A priest had abused her (his wife) before the marriage. Later, when she confessed the pre-marital affair, that priest (who heard the confession) exploited her, threatening that he would reveal everything to me. Again, that priest handed over her to another priest, blackmailing her using the photographs,” her husband was quoted as saying in an audio clip, reported The Indian Express. Also Read - Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan Puts Controversial State Police Act Amendment on Hold

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Her husband also alleged that one of the priests even exploited her over 350 times. But since he refrained himself from taking any action even after the woman was assaulted numerous times, he chose not to bring it up.

“In the complaint, the husband said one priest had abused his wife 380 times. Then, what they were doing until the figure reached 380. That is why the husband was not keen to move a police complaint,” Father M O John said. He added that there was nothing in the case which needs a police probe.

“The five priests… have been asked to keep away from officiating all priestly duties and function as head of parishes. They are not under suspension. Their fate would be decided only after the inquiry report,’’ he added. He said that an inquiry has been formed to look into the allegations made against the priests.