On April 30th, 2022, a Pocso court in the Kollam district sentenced a Catholic priest to 18 years in prison for sexually abusing teenage seminarians. The sentence was handed down to Thomas Parekkulam, age 35, of the Catholic community society of St. Eugene De Mazendo.
Additional district judge (Pocso) K. N. Sujith handed down the sentence.
Parekkulam, the priest, was accused of sexually abusing four underage boys in four consecutive incidences. At the time of the crime, all of the victims were 16 years old and students at a seminary in Punalur, Kollam district, where Parekkulam worked as a parish priest. In 2017, there were no reported cases.
The court ruled Parekkulam guilty on all four charges on April 29th, in the commission of offences punishable under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (unnatural offences) and other applicable sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) Act, 2012. In three of the cases, he was sentenced to five years in jail, and in the fourth, he was sentenced to three years in prison.
The court stated that the facts of the case would establish that the victim boys had experienced bodily and mental trauma as a result of the sexual assault, and that rehabilitating them was therefore necessary.
The sentences must be served individually, resulting in a total sentence length of 18 years. The judge also ordered the prisoner to pay Rs 1 lakh in compensation to each of the survivors.
The court also suggested that the District Legal Services Authority (DLSA) pay reasonable compensation to the survivors of the sexual assaults, considering the trauma that they have suffered. The incident was brought to light after one of the boys called the childline and filed a report.
The culprit was apprehended in Chennai after fleeing from police custody, according to the district public prosecutor’s office. The case was opened and examined after the Child Welfare Committee in Thiruvananthapuram received a complaint.
The victims’ identities have been withheld to safeguard their privacy, as required by Supreme Court guidelines in sexual assault cases.
Published by: Ifa Zamzami