A sentence imposed against a priest for committing grave sexual abuse to an underage girl has been enhanced to 15-year-Rigorous Imprisonment from the original sentence of 11-year-simple imprisonment by Court of Appeal, during the appeal.
In its judgment regarding the appeal filed by the priest, the Court of Appeal two-judge-bench comprising Justices Priyantha Fernando and Wickum Kaluarachchi held that the sentence imposed on the second count is inadequate in light of the nature and circumstances on which the grave sexual abuse was committed.
Rejecting the submissions made on behalf of the priest, a teacher of a Sunday School at a temple in Kegalle District, the Court of Appeal observed that no girl would be tempted to fabricate a story for this kind of offence, implicating a monk by making her own future dark in a country with a cultural and social background like ours, being a victim of sexual abuse leaves a scar on a 14-year-old girl’s entire future.
Justice Wickum Kaluarachchi observed that a child who goes to a monk, not like going to an ordinary person, expects guardianship and has more confidence that the monk will do no harm to her.
Justice Kaluarachchi further viewed that sexually abusing the girl who came to the monk who was also her teacher is more serious than abusing the girl by an ordinary person.
Justice Kaluarachchi observed that psycological damage to a sexually abused child is difficult to detect and cannot be estimated since it is not visible.
The High Court had sentenced the accused to 4 years’ simple imprisonment for the first count and suspended the same for 15 years, and imposed 11 years’ simple imprisonment for the second count.
The Court of Appeal further decided to remove the suspended imprisonment imposed in respect of the first count.
The Attorney General had filed indictments against the priest for kidnapping (section 354 of Penal Code) and committing grave sexual abuse an offence punishable under section 365B(2)(b) of the Penal Code on or about 24th August 2010.
According to the prosecution, the accused had come to the house of the victim (100-150 meters away from the temple) around 10 p.m. where she was sleeping with her parents and three brothers.
The accused had talked to the victim through a window and had asked her to come outside of the house to meet him.
Thereafter, he had taken her to the “Dharma Shalawa” at the temple.
The position taken up by the accused in his evidence was that the victim came to his temple on her own and he never asked her to come.
The Court of Appeal is of the view that even the accused admits that the victim was with him in the temple at night.
When the victim’s mother awoke in the night, noticed that her daughter was missing.
Then she informed the victim's father, and the father and victim's elder brother went to the temple, where they found the victim and brought her back to her home. Soon after, the victim lodged a complaint at the police station against the accused. (Lakmal Sooriyagoda)