Absconding 30-year-old Syro Malankara Catholic Church Priest Fr Benedict Anto, who had been on the run in connection with sexual assault and harassment of several women in Kanyakumari District, was on March 20, arrested by the Tamil Nadu Police special team at a farmhouse in Nagercoil where he was hiding.
The cybercrime branch police registered cases against the 39-year-old priest of a Church in Thucklay. He hails from Vilavankode in the Kanyakumari District.
Fr Benedict Anto’s post at the Our Lady of Assumption Malankara Church at Pilankalai came to the public after obscene videos involving him with women went viral on social media for the past week. On behalf of the accused girl, a group of people, including a law student, went to the priest’s residence to question him about his illegal activities. The priest complained that a group took away his mobile and laptops. By that time, social media was full of videos of his sexually intimate pictures with women in comprising positions. Based on his complaint, police immediately arrested the youth, Austin Gino. Police immediately arrested one Austin Jio, a law student. His mother, Mini Aitha, complained that his son was illegally detained by the police and was falsely implicated.
The priest also trapped a medical student, reportedly the daughter of an influential person in the church. He threatened his victims using pictures taken with them, and WhatsApp chats, saying he would reveal their secrets to exploit them sexually. He trapped even married women in this method.
In the past few days, scandalous videos of Priest Benedict Anto indulging in obscenity with women have gone viral on social media, alleging that he was involved with minors and married women. The alleged priest is associated with various political groups, including Naam Tamilar Katchi Seeman. Most of his victims are young women below 30 years, including students, minors, and housewives. They are either regular churchgoers or who came to make confessions for their sins but do not know the sinner of rank order was waiting with romantic intentions.
He exploited them to suit sexual appetite. It is alleged he would lure young girls into personal conversations and, getting their numbers, would chat for hours together in a sexy language. Police sources said,” He would ask them to send pictures of their private parts which he wanted or by marking in a picture. It is alleged that there are intimate and, compromising position pictures of women over numbering 100 are in his laptop. Police were shocked to find such xxx rated sexual content treasure in his laptop”.
His private videos became the talk of the state, especially on social media, and many users accused the priest of having illegal relationships with the women who came to his church. Many users on social media had accused Benedict Anto of being a sexual predator who would send obscene messages and kiss and touch women inappropriately. He would then force these women to keep quiet by threatening to release their intimate videos.
In other words, his obscene videos, photos and WhatsApp chats were circulated in the name of priests’ sexcapedes. Videos of Priest Anto being lewd with churchgoers went viral on social media.
A nursing student from Pachiparai has complained to the Cybercrime Police in Nagercoil. In it, the priest, Benedict Anto, said that he had been sexually harassing her through WhatsApp. The first-year nursing student has filed a complaint with the SP saying that Fr Benedict Anto was harassing her online. She said, “Anto used to her inappropriately in the church where she was a regular goer.
After some days, he collected my number and started pressuring me to make video calls and WhatsApp chat. I was forced to respond, and he started sexually harassing me online. After I learned he has been doing this with many more women. A few more people threaten me, including Paulraj and two unidentified men”.
The complainant accused the priest of sexually exploiting women who attend his congregation and threatening them with videos of their intimate moments. Many victims do not come forward to give complaints to the police fearing social stigma, and they’re dependent on the church for everything from birth to death.
The police, which showed urgency in an alleged theft complaint, did not show the same zeal in arresting the church priest who sexually assaulted women, including students. It said special teams have been formed to nab the priest who has been on the run.
Even as special teams have been formed to trace him after he went underground after his private videos and pictures went viral on social media, speculations were rife that he would surrender before a court in the Kanyakumari district. It promoted the police to step up surveillance in the courts.
At this stage, police arrested him on March 20, produced him before a court, and remanded him in judicial custody. Earlier, he was subjected to medical tests in a Government hospital.
The cybercrime police registered a case against priest Benedict Anto under five sections, including misuse of information technology and indecency with women. He has a bad reputation with women, and similar complaints have already been filed against him at various police stations.
The sexual predator Priest Benedict Anto has his master’s degree in English from Annamalai University, Chidambaram, a BA in philosophy at Kerala University, and Philosophical studies at St. Mary’s Seminary in Thiruvananthapuram. He studied at Sacred Heart Seminary, Poonamallee and Kids Oxford School and St. Francis Higher Secondary School, Vavarai.