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Kollam (Kerala): A Kerala court has sentenced a Christian priest to 18 years of rigorous imprisonment for sexually abusing four minor boys of a seminary in Kollam district five years ago.

Fr Thomas Parekkulam (35), a member of Chennai-based SDM minor seminary, was on Friday found guilty of the crime registered by police in Puthoor under Kottarakkara circle in the commission of offences punishable under Section 377 (unnatural offences) of the Indian Penal Code and other relevant sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) Act, 2012.

The young victims, all aged 16 at the time of the incident, were the students of a seminary in Pullamala in the district wherein the accused was serving as a rector.

Sentencing the priest to five years each in three cases and three years sentence in the fourth case, Additional District and Sessions Judge (POCSO) K N Sujith also ordered him to pay a compensation of Rs 1 lakh each for every case.

Considering the trauma suffered by the victims in the sexual attacks, the court also recommended to the District Legal Services Authority (DLSA) to award adequate compensation to the victims commensurate to the physical as well as mental trauma suffered by them.

“The factual circumstances emerged in the instant case would show that, attributing to sexual attack the victim boys were subjected to, they had suffered physical as well as mental trauma and ergo, it is necessary to rehabilitate them,” the court said.

The accused, who went absconding after escaping from police custody, was arrested from Chennai, the office of the district public prosecutor said.

The case was registered and investigated based on a complaint received by the Child Welfare Committee in Thiruvananthapuram, the office said.

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