Thiruvananthapuram: With police yet to arrest all suspects in the case of a Catholic priest impregnating a school girl at Kottiyoor in Kerala’s Kannur district, two more serious cases of child abuse have surfaced in the state.

As many as seven girls at an orphanage were allegedly abused for weeks together, at Kalpatta in Wayanad district, and police have registered a total of 11 cases pertaining to the matter.

Police said on Tuesday there were six accused in the case and all of them had been taken into custody.

The six accused have been charged under provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (Pocso), which will make it difficult for them to get bail in court.

Meanwhile, in the second case, two young sisters were found hanging within the space of less than two months, raising suspicions that both may have been sexually abused.

The deaths happened at Walayar in Palakkad district.

The older girl, who was 11, was found hanging on January 11. Her younger sister aged 9 was found hanging on March 4.

Both of them were found hanging in exactly the same spot in their one-room house.

The girls’ mother informed police that the older girl had been abused by a relative and police have confirmed sexual abuse of the girl through a medical examination of her body.

Police suspect the younger child may also have been abused.

The older girl is from the mother’s first husband, while the younger girl and a son were born after she married another man.

It was the younger girl who was the first see her sister’s body hanging in the house when she returned home.

In the case of seven girls in Kalpatta being abused, police believe the suspect lured the children to two shops, with the offer of sweets, while they moved between their school and the orphanage hostel.

They were repeatedly abused thereafter. The suspects allegedly threatened them with death if they revealed the matter, and were apparently abusing them since January.

Reports indicate that it was a security man who sensed something suspicious about the girls’ movements and informed the police.

A counselling session was then organised for the girls, and they revealed details of the abuse.

A medical report on Tuesday morning confirmed that the girls had been sexually abused.

Communist Party of India Marxist MP, P.K. Sreemathy who visited the victims said the accused had shown the girls their photos and videos and blackmailed them into repeated abuse.

The girls are believed to have been abused in two shops in the vicinity of the orphanage.

All the accused are from the neighbourhood of the orphanage. The girls are studying in grades 7, 8, 9 and 10.

Meanwhile, in the case of Catholic priest Robin Vadakkumcherry, 48, impregnating a school girl at Kottiyoor in Kannur district, a priest and a nun who are facing arrest in the case have submitted advance bail applications.

Fr Thomas Therakam and Sr Betty who moved bail requests were both members of the Wayanad Child Welfare Committee and are accused of negligence and cover-up in the case of the school girl delivering a baby boy.

The two have since been removed from the committee by the state government.