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Indian police said on Tuesday they are investigating four Christian priests for allegedly raping and blackmailing a woman in a cycle of abuse and threats lasting almost 20 years.

The woman told police that her ordeal began while still a minor in the 1990s when an Orthodox priest at a church in the southern state of Kerala forced her into sex.

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She confessed to a second priest, who allegedly blackmailed her into having sex with him. A further two priests also threatened her and forced her into sex, the woman, who has not been named, told investigators.

“We filed a case on Monday based on her complaint. We have now started our investigation,” local police official S. Sreejith told AFP.

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