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Monday, May 29, 2023

Pastor gets lifetime sentence for raping mentally & physically challenged minor

A POCSO special court in Tamil Nadu sentenced a pastor who raped a mentally and physically challenged child to a lifetime. The pastor’s wife had appealed against the Goondas Act being applied which was summarily rejected by the court. He raped the victim last year on the church premises.

49-year-old J Josephraja serving at a church in Rajapalayam raped the girl in May 2022. The partially mentally challenged and physically disabled girl was sexually assaulted on the premises of the church where the pastor served. The 16-year-old victim was a regular to the church along with her mother. On that day, she went to the church in search of her mother. The pastor raped the innocent child in the church. 

Her mother came to know about it only when she noticed the injuries on her body and filed a complaint with the All Women Police Station in Rajapalayam. The pastor was booked under the POCSO Act and later under the Goondas Act.

A special court for hearing POCSO cases found the pastor guilty and Justice Poorana Jaya Anand awarded him a rigorous imprisonment for a lifetime. The court also levied Rs 1 lakh fine on him, failing pay which will attract two more years of imprisonment. The court also directed for the victim to be paid an amount of Rs 10 lakh as compensation Rs 2.5 lakh of which will be released as interim compensation. A Dinamalar report says that the pastor’s family threatened the victim’s family in the court complex after the verdict was announced.

A few days before the verdict was passed the pastor’s wife filed a bail plea at the Madras High Court and sought to quash the detention order passed under the Goondas Act. The pastor’s counsel argued that he was not a habitual offender and as it was a solitary offence he should be granted bail. But the court observed that  “the Pastor, who was duty bound to care for every member of the church, had committed the offence. This act itself had such propensity to create panic in the minds of those associated with the church” and dismissed the plea.

Judges R Suresh Kumar and KK Ramakrishnan who heard the plea said that the case “shocked the judicial conscience”. They noted in their judgment, “In this case, the detenu is a Pastor and his responsibility towards the entire public is placed on the high pedestrian than the ordinary man. He is duty-bound to take care of every member of the Church without any greed of sex. 

“But, it is alleged that he has committed offence under the POCSO Act, more particularly, he is alleged to be committed the penetrative sexual assault on the partially mentally retarded and physically challenged minor victim girl. So, the said act of the Pastor created panic in the locality and also the mind of the persons attending the prayer along with their female children.

It has become a regular affair for the sexually deprived Catholic priests sworn to celibacy and pastors from other denominations as well to prey on innocent children. While those with a huge following and wealth think they can get away with the help of influential connections, the less influential ones are emboldened by the minority appeasement policies of the establishment.

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