February 05, 2005

Rapist priest preyed on vulnerable women

Local London

By Local London Reporter

A Hindu priest fired by a temple in Tooting for his behaviour around women went on to rape a female worshipper from a temple in Croydon.

Ramanathan Somanathan was found guilty of twice raping the 29-year-old woman, abusing his position as a respected priest at the Sivaskanthagiri Arulmigu Murugan Temple in Thornton Road, Croydon.

Croydon Crown Court heard how the chairman of the Sivayogam Muthumariyamman temple in Upper Tooting Road had decided not to renew Somanathan's contract when he worked there six years ago, because he had become concerned about the defendant's behaviour towards women at the temple.

The court heard that the married 41-year-old from Thornton Heath had told his victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, that they had been married in a previous life.

Gillian Etherton, prosecuting, told the court that Somanathan had also sexually harassed other worshippers at the Croydon temple, and many of them had been afraid to come forward fearing a backlash from the local Hindu community.

Posted by kshaw at February 5, 2005 06:59 AM