Today two matters regarding two priests from India who came to Canada to serve with the Archdiocese of Grouard-McLennan, Alberta. Both priests are members of an order known as the Missionary Society of St. Thomas the Apostle. Both priests faced criminal charges of a sexual nature. Last week one of the two was found ‘not guilty.’ In trying to determine what those charges were all about I happened on a newsletter of 01 September 2014 which references the strange outcome of charges against the other.
Here we go
(1) Father Abraham Azhakathu mst,
As posted elsewhere on Friday, Father Abraham Azhakathu mst, was acquitted.
06 March 2015: Former Manning Priest Not Guilty
I can find no information anywhere on the natrue of the charges. Nor can I find any info on the Crown’s case. All that we know is that Father Azhakathu testified in his own defence and denied touching ‘the private parts’ of a minor,’ that he helped the minor ‘put on church garments’ once or twice., and that in his closing arguments his lawyer. Rob Marceau, argued that the time-line of the alleged events didn’t add up.
Beyond that we know that Father Azhakathu “was overtake with tears of joy” when he heard the verdict, and the mother oft he complainant “showed an expression of shock and unhappiness.” And, oh yes, that there were unidentified supporters who greeted him with words of encouragement. We have no idea how many supporters were present, nor for that matter of who they were.
Was the Archbishop there? I wonder simply because of the following entry in the Archbishop’s news letter of o1 September 2014:
Father Abraham Azhakathu attended a preliminary hearing on August 21st in Peace River on the charges brought against him. I was also present, along with other priests and parishioners. His case will go to trial, most likely in the spring of 2015. He continues to reside at the chancery office in McLennan
I don’t recall ever reading of or seeing a bishop or archbishop in attendance in court when one of his priest is facing criminal charges. charges which were laid in response to a complaint filed by one of the archbishop’s flock.
I was surprised to see that.
Was the archbishop there to support the priest? or was he there to support the complainant? It’s hard to tell, isn’t it? I’ve seen no reports aside his own of the archbishop’s attendance in court for the prelim; without being there in person to witness what if any interaction was had with the complainant and the complainant’s family, it’s hard to tell who he was supporting.
Anyway. the archbishop and “other priests” and parishioners were there for the prelim. I think it’s highly possible that they all returned for the trial?
(2) Father Abraham Chempottickal mst
Now, back to that news letter of 01 September 2014.
First, a link to the whole newsletter: Archbishop Petipas newsletter references guilty plea by Father Chempottickal and preliminary hearing of Father Azhakathu
Note the following reference to the TRIAL of Father Abraham Chempottickal, another priest who hailed from India, and who, like Father, is a priest with the Missionary Society of St. Thomas the Apostle who came to Canada to serve in the Archdiocese of Grouard McLennan, Albertta:
Father Abraham Chempottickal’s trial was held in Chateh on July 2nd, but unfortunately, Father was not present. He had gone on a vacation and extended leave with the intention of returning for the trial. However, he fell sick as he was about to return. Because he could not plead innocence in absentia, he pled guilty to the offense of common assault. As a result, he suffered a fine and a criminal record. Father does not foresee returning to Canada
Can you believe it? Can you honestly believe what you are reading?!
Anyway, Father Abraham Chempottickalt has been added to ‘the list.” In attempting to find out what the charges against this priest were about I discovered that he had initially been charged with sexual assault, and then entered a guilty plea in absentia to a charges of common assault.
(1) Why was Father Chempottickalt allowed to leave the country?
(2) How did the charge of sexual assault become one of common assault?
(3) Why, if indeed Father Chempottickalt wanted to plead his innocence, did his lawyer – under orders of the Archbishop – not fight to get the trial adjourned to a later date?
What was this all about? Does anyone out there know any more? Can anyone find any media coverage beyond the little I was able to dig up?
It smells fishy to me.
Enough for now,