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Catholic Priest Acquitted After 2 Years Jail on Rape Charges
Friday, March 9, 2018, 12:25 (IST)
A Catholic priest imprisoned two years ago on rape charges was released Feb. 28 after a court in Madhya Pradesh acquitted him of all charges.
Fr Victor Mundargi, 40-year-old, was arrested and jailed on March 14, 2016, on charges of raping a 10-year-old girl residing in a hostel under his care in Tappa village of Dewas district.
Along with the priest, a Catholic nun Sr Lalitha Minj and the hostel's general practitioner Lilly John were charged for keeping the police in the loop without reporting the sexual violation of a minor.
The physician was offered bail without being detained; however, bail for the nun was delayed for two months.
"The priest and others have been acquitted of all charges," said Raghuvir Yardi, a lawyer who represented Mundargi.
"The prosecution could not prove the allegations, and finally the court cleared them of all charges," he said.
Fr Maria Stephen, spokesperson for all Catholic dioceses in Madhya Pradesh, said the girl accused Fr Mundargi of rape during a petty talk she had with a classmate, who in turn reported the school teachers.
He alleged that the accusations were posted on social media that went viral and attracted the attention of the police, who immediately jailed the priest and charged him with rape without crosschecking with the girl.
He was forced to jail with false charges to tarnish the image of the church, Stephen alleged.
"The truth has triumphed at last," he told ucanews.com, adding that Christians have been witnessing violence in the state for several years now.