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MYSURU, India (ChurchMilitant.com) - A priest with a criminal record and a history of sexual misconduct was enthroned as bishop by Pope Francis in 2017, Church Militant has learned.
Criminal proceedings against Fr. K. A. William, which were pending in a court of law, were "suppressed" in the hierarchy's recommendation of the priest for the bishopric of Mysore, veteran judge Michael F. Saldanha revealed on Tuesday in a letter to Pope Francis.
The judge named the former archbishop of Bangalore, Abp. Bernard Moras, and cardinal-archbishop of Bombay, Oswald Gracias, as co-conspirators in suppressing information about William's criminal history when they recommended him to the Vatican for episcopal promotion.
Since his elevation to the episcopate, Bp. William of Mysore has been accused of murdering four priests, kidnapping a 24-year-old married woman, fathering at least two children, having five mistresses and embezzling diocesan and charity funds.
In March 2011, Fr. William, who was parish priest of St. Philomena's Cathedral and dean of Mysore city, physically assaulted police constable H. Alexander, according to the first information report filed at Lashkar police station, Mysuru.
In the FIR obtained by Church Militant, Alexander says he went to the cathedral at around 7:30 p.m. to pray. While entering, the complainant asked the church's security guard why he was pouring water on the cathedral steps — people often sit on the steps in the evenings.
Alexander records the incident in his police complaint:
At that moment, Fr. William and his brother-in-law Dickson, who were standing close by, came to the spot, and all of a sudden Fr. William hit me with his right fist on my right eye and asked me, 'Who are you to question?' and threatened, saying that they would kill me.
Alexander says he was first taken to K.R. Hospital and later admitted to the MINDS Hospital for further treatment. A complaint against Fr. William was lodged under sections 323, 504, 506 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code.
In May 2014, Alexander repeated his statement before the court and revealed how William and other "priests at the high level" intimidated him into withdrawing the case. The 51-year-old constable narrated how he was browbeaten:
If you pursue this case, you'll have a lot of problems, that will spoil our name — they pressurized [sic] me to come to an amicable settlement. They pressurized me and took signatures from me on many blank papers: "If you do not sign, you'll be excommunicated, put out of the Church; you'll be fined."
William and his accomplices were granted bail by paying a sum of 10,000 rupees. The court noted that "the alleged offense is bailable in nature" and the accused "are entitled for bail as of right."
However, in his letter to the pontiff sent through the office of India's papal nuncio Abp. Leopoldo Girelli, Justice Saldanha explained how "William and his relation were arrested" and "normally this class of cases are [sic] treated as non-bailable."
"But we have the unusual situation of the magistrate granting bail. The level of extra-legal influence wielded by William is established," Saldanha, who was rated among the world's top 10 judges by the International Jurists Association, noted.
"It was not a petty crime, but a case in which the assault by William resulted in an injury that was categorized as 'fatal.' The victim was in a government hospital in the intensive care unit," the judge stressed.
Court records obtained by Church Militant document that Alexander's complaint was dismissed in November 2018 — 22 months after William's consecration — because he repeatedly "failed to appear before the court to proceed with the matter," despite "sufficient opportunity and issuance of notice."
In a bizarre twist, William appointed Alexander as his personal bodyguard after he became bishop.
"The fact that Alexander was corrupted, is self-evident from the undisputed position that William bought him over and that he was officially functioning as his personal bodyguard, which he is still doing and of which there is irrefutable documentary evidence," Saldanha noted.
"Sabotaging a pending judicial proceeding and interfering with the course of justice are instances punishable under a series of provisions under the IPC as also the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Contempt of Courts Act," the judge warned.
Church Militant has also obtained from diocesan sources a history of William's financial and sexual misconduct while he was a priest.
Father William lasted only a year (1993–1994) as assistant parish priest of St. Thomas Church, Thomayarpalyam. Within six months of his installation, locals warned him to leave because of his "misbehavior with the girls."
Parishioners beat William during his next posting as assistant parish priest of Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Martalli, (1994–1995) after he "misbehaved with girls."
A dispute with parishioners prevented William from completing his full term as parish priest of Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Gundlupet (1995–1996).
William's mother pleaded with then-bishop Joseph Roy to "transfer him somewhere far, otherwise the people might kill him." William was sent to St. Peter's Pontifical Seminary in Bangalore for a licentiate in canon law.
During his tenure as parish priest of Holy Family Church, Hinkal (1998–2003), William impregnated an Anglo-Indian woman. Angry parishioners attacked the church, and William's mistress and newborn child were sent abroad.
William was at the heart of multiple financial and sexual scandals from 2003 to 2009, including benefiting from the sale of church property when he held the position of financial administrator and chancellor of Mysore diocese.
Similar scandals erupted when William was appointed parish priest of Mysore cathedral (2009–2015) and, later, parish priest of St. Joseph's Church, Jayalakshmipuram, and secretary of the Mysore Diocesan Educational Society (2015–2017).
In 2016, a year before he was appointed bishop, Dr. J. S. William Menezes filed a police complaint against William for fraudulently receiving 20 million rupees for the sale of 429 acres of diocesan land and for cheating and threatening the owner.
William was accused under the IPC of criminal breach of trust (§406), cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property (§420), intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace (§504) and criminal intimidation (§506).
Multiple sources said that William's predecessor, Bp. Thomas Anthony Vazhapilly, recommended the scandal-plagued priest to the Vatican for promotion to the episcopate because William had obtained total control of the diocese while serving as his chancellor.
"The then-bishop Vazhapilly was regularly visiting the hospital where the [assault] victim was admitted and the police station in charge of the investigation at the relevant time and cannot plead ignorance because the facts were in the media all over the country," Saldanha remarked.
The Code of Canon Law (canon 378 §§1–2) requires a candidate for the episcopate to be "outstanding in solid faith, good morals, piety, zeal for souls, wisdom, prudence and human virtues, and endowed with other qualities which make him suitable to fulfill the office in question" and "of good reputation."
In March 2021, a Vatican enquiry commission comprised of three bishops visited Mysore and received depositions from 120 individuals.
A 12-page dossier containing evidence of William's abuse of office; immoral, criminal and nefarious activities; false statements; money transfers; receipt of unaccounted money; soliciting foreign funds; and dubious expenditure was submitted to the commission in June.
The commission revisited Mysore in July 2021 and submitted its report to the papal nuncio in the second week of September 2021. The Vatican ordered William to take a DNA test nearly two years ago, but the bishop has yet to comply.
Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops, who was also responsible for William's appointment, is now facing a lawsuit for sexually assaulting a 23-year-old intern while archbishop of Quebec.
Church Militant asked the nuncio's office why the Vatican had failed to act or to make public its report on William even though a year had passed since the commission had submitted its findings.
Church Militant also contacted Bp. William for comment. There was no response from Girelli or William as of press time.
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