Kochi: Ernakulam Police revealed that a 70-year old Catholic priest allegedly molested three minor girls when they visited him. The police said that the minors came to meet the priest to seek blessings at his church office in Chendamangalam in Ernakulam district, Kerala, last month. Instead of blessing the minors, the priest allegedly molested them, according to sources. 

The priest is identified as George Padayatty, vicar of a Syrian Catholic Church in Chendamangalam. After the case was registered, the priest has been absconding. 

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The priest has been charged under various sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act), an official at Vadakkekara police station told media. A source in the Syro-Malabar Church said the priest has been suspended by the Ernakulam-Angamaly Archdiocese.

In a similar incident, Thalassery POCSO court sentenced Catholic priest Robin Vadakkumchery to 20 years rigorous imprisonment for raping and impregnating a minor girl.  A fine of Rs 3 lakh was also levied on him. 

Thalassery court judge PN Vinod pronounced the verdict on February 16. The priest has been sent to 60 years of rigorous imprisonment over three charges, including rape and abuse of minor girls.