Two priests in Kerala accused of raping and blackmailing a woman surrendered before a court in Thiruvalla town on Monday, NDTV reported. Father Sony Verghese and Father Jaise K George surrendered a week after the Supreme Court ordered them to do so by August 13 and cancelled their interim protection from arrest.

On July 27, the court asked the Kerala Police to file within two weeks a status report of the investigation into the charges of sexual abuse against four Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church priests. The priests are accused of raping and molesting a 34-year-old woman for three years by using a statement she made during confession before one of them. Confession – also known as the sacrament of reconciliation – is a church practice that is considered a form of penance.

In a letter to the church in June, the woman’s husband, who hails from Thiruvalla in Pathanamthitta district, claimed that the priests had used his wife’s confession to blackmail her. He named eight people in the letter and sought action against them. Following the allegations, the church sent the priests on leave.

The complainant’s lawyer has claimed that the accused had uploaded a video online to blackmail her.