Filipino priest arrested for abusing church volunteer
Archdiocesan authorities strip Fr. Karole Reward Israel of priestly duties pending investigations
Father Karole Reward Israel. (Photo provided)
The recent arrest of a Filipino priest for allegedly sexually assaulting and blackmailing a 16-year-old church volunteer came as a surprise to the Archdiocese of Tuguegarao in the northern Philippines.
Father Karole Reward Israel, 29, a newly ordained cleric who received his assignment in May 2021, has been stripped of his priestly duties pending investigations and a trial.
“The Archdiocese will cooperate fully with the prosecution in conducting an impartial preliminary investigation and will also provide assistance to our priest,” the Archdiocese said in a statement.
Israel’s arrest by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on October 20 was made public two days later. Authorities said the cleric assaulted the victim multiple times.
“We formed a team of NBI agents who tracked the priest and his underage victim to a meeting place. He was asking her for sexual favors by threatening to leak their sex videos,” NBI Director Arcelito Albao told reporters on October 22.
The victim, from a town in Cagayan province, claimed that Father Israel seduced her and forcibly photographed her naked.
The cleric did not resist arrest despite denying any sexual misconduct or threatening the victim, according to police reports.
State attorneys said father Israel faces multiple criminal charges including child abuse, sexual harassment, violence, and violation of the anti-photo and voyeurism law for recording a sex video and taking pictures. force nude photos.
“He is excused from fulfilling his priestly obligation, with the exception of the obligation of prayer,” the archdiocesan statement read. “In the meantime, we earnestly ask for prayers for all the priests who carry all the frailties that afflict us all.”
A group of Catholic lawyers have said rape and sexual assault cases are “special cases” because the testimony of the victim itself is evidence against the accused.
“In rape cases, the Supreme Court of the Philippines has made it clear that no sane woman would claim to have been raped or sexually assaulted, especially if the victim is a minor. So his testimony is the evidence against the defendant,” law professor Chris Lao told UCA News.
A day after his arrest, Israel posted bail for his temporary release pending his trial in court.