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Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now

Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who was heading the diocese in Jalandhar, is accused of raping a nun in Kerala. File

Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who was heading the diocese in Jalandhar, is accused of raping a nun in Kerala. File  

A nun’s rape and victimisation charges against Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal of the Syro-Malabar Church has landed the numerically strong church into the vortex of its worst crisis in recent history.

The Bishop was relieved of his duties and later arrested for questioning by the Kerala police after a few nuns staged a sit-in protest demanding action against the accused Bishop.

On October 15, 2018, the Bishop was given conditional bail in the case. Here, we look at the events that transpired ever since the scandal broke.

Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now

Nun accuses bishop of rape

He files complaint citing blackmail

Close on the heels of a sex scandal in the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, in which five priests were accused by a laywoman of sexually exploiting her, a scandal has erupted in the Catholic Church with a senior nun alleging rape by Bishop Franco Mulakkal, the head of the Latin diocese of Jalandhar.

The nun has filed a case with the Kuravilangad police here. However, her complaint comes a few days after the bishop himself had filed a case of blackmail by relatives of the nun.

According to the police, the nun had complained that she was raped and sexually exploited 14 times by the bishop since May 2014. She was sexually exploited at the Church’s guest house facility at Kuravilangad. She approached the Church hierarchy but they had turned a deaf ear to her plea, she said. She then decided to approach the police.

Meanwhile, the bishop, in his complaint to the police, alleged that he was blackmailed by the relatives of the nun. She was working in Jalandhar and he had initiated disciplinary action against her. When he visited Kuravilangad recently, the nun’s relatives allegedly threatened him with blackmail and wanted the disciplinary action to be revoked, the complaint said.

District Police Chief Harishanker saud he had received the complaint from the nun and since there was an earlier complaint from the bishop, he had asked for a full investigation. K. Subhash, Dy.SP, Vaikom, has been entrusted with the investigation.

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Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now

Jalandhar diocese sex scandal: Demand to relieve bishop of pastoral duties

A view of St. Mary's Convent and Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica in Fort Kochi on May 18, 2018. Photo for representational purpose.

A view of St. Mary's Convent and Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica in Fort Kochi on May 18, 2018. Photo for representational purpose.   | Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat

Members of various Christian organisations have called upon Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Giambattista Diquattro to take steps to relieve Bishop Franco Mulakkal, head of the Jalandhar diocese of the Catholic Church who is embroiled in a sex scandal, of his pastoral responsibilities.

In a letter, they said the mudslinging between the bishop and his priests on the one hand and and the aggrieved nun and her family on the other had turned the Church into an object of ridicule before the people. This has caused a lot of harm to the Church and to the faith of the people.

“In view of the above and now that the case has gone to court, we would urge you to please advise the Pope Francis to relieve the bishop of his pastoral responsibilities so that the Church is seen to actually practise the zero tolerance it professes to practice in abuse cases,” the letter said.

 

In a similar letter, they asked Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) president Cardinal Oswald Gracias to take steps to create awareness about the CBCI guidelines to deal with Sexual Harassment in Workplace, 2017 and to establish structures and procedures described to implement them, without delay. “Sadly, the representations made by the religious sister to the bishops have brought no response, raising issues about the credibility of the CBCI policy,” the letter said.

They wanted him to ensure that every diocese respects and complies with the State laws with regard to addressing abuse cases of minors and sexual harassment of women in Church and also to ensure that required structures are established at the diocesan level to address such cases.

They also wanted the authorities to pay more attention to the formation of the candidates to priesthood.

The letters are signed by 178 individuals who are members of various Christian organisations functioning at the regional and national level. They said they are functionaries of various Christian organisations but they have come together as concerned individuals and in many cases not as representatives of the organisations they work for.

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Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now

Nun complained to me: Pala bishop

Tells police no written complaint was given

The investigation into the alleged rape of a nun by Bishop Franco Mulakkal, head of the Jalandhar diocese of the Catholic Church, is nearing completion with the police on Saturday recording the statement of Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt, head of the Pala diocese of the Church. The bishop’s statement was recorded as the nun had said that she had complained to him about the issue earlier.

According to the investigation officer K. Subhash, Dy.SP, Vaikom, the bishop’s statement corroborated the nun’s complaint. The bishop informed him that the nun had complained to him about the issue. She had met him on the advice of Fr. Joseph Thadathil, the vicar at the Martha Mariam Forane Church at Kuravilangad to which the Mission House of Missionaries of Jesus was attached. The complaint was made verbally and there was no written complaint, Bishop Kallarangatt had said. The statement was recorded at the Bishop’s House at Pala.

Priest’s statement

The statement of Fr. Thadathil was also recorded by the police on Saturday. According to Mr. Subhash, his statement also corroborated the complaint of the nun recorded earlier. The statement of the priest was recorded at the office of the Dy.SP, Vaikom.

The police are also trying to record the statements of two nuns from the mission who had left the congregation, allegedly because of mistreatment by Bishop Mulakkal. The statement of a relative of the nun will also be recorded.

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Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now

Abolish practice of confessions in churches: NCW

Image for representational purpose only.

Image for representational purpose only.  

They demand proper probe into the increasing incidents of rape and sexual assaults in churches of Kerala

The National Commission for Women (NCW) has recommended abolishing the practice of “confessions” in churches as it can lead to blackmailing of women. A central agency also needs to do a proper investigation into the increasing incidents of rape and sexual assaults in churches of Kerala, NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma said.

“The priests pressure women into telling their secrets and we have one such case in front of us, there must be many more such cases and what we have right now is just a tip of the iceberg,” she said.

The recommendations come in the backdrop of a rape case against four priests of Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church who have been accused of sexually exploiting a married woman belonging to their church.

The issue came to the fore after the victim’s husband wrote to the church, alleging that the priests blackmailed and abused his wife, a school teacher.

The NCW has constituted an inquiry committee to look into alleged sexual assaults against women in churches, and has sent its findings to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi and the DGP of Kerala and Punjab.

“The woman was socially harassed. She left her job after the incident as her photograph was circulated on social media. The two priests are at large and they need to be nabbed,” the NCW chairperson said.

In another incident, a nun, in a complaint to the Kottayam district police chief last month, alleged that Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal raped her and had unnatural sex with her multiple times at a small town near Kottayam between 2014 and 2016.

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Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now

Judge recuses himself fromhearing case against priest

KCRM petition seeking a directive to arrest Bishop of Jalandhar

Justice Sunil Thomas of the Kerala High Court on Friday recused himself from hearing a petition filed by the Kerala Catholic Church Reformation Movement (KCRM), Pala, seeking a directive to arrest Franco Mulakkal, the Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Jalandhar, in a case charging him with sexually abusing a nun.

The court passed the order when the petition filed by K. George Joseph, executive committee member of KCRM, came up for hearing.

The petitioner pointed out that despite registering an FIR on June 28 and recording the statement of the nun under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the Bishop was yet to be arrested or interrogated.

As a result, the survivor had been facing threat to her life even as the perpetrator continued to enjoy his power. The slow progress in the investigation amounted to violation of the right of the sexual abuse survivor to life.

The petitioner sought a speedy investigation besides the protection of witnesses. In fact, no action had been taken against the priest who was the senior most functionary of the Catholic Church. There had been serious efforts to undermine the investigation by threats, inducements and coercion on various witnesses, the petitoner alleged.

The petitioner pointed out that the recent incidents of sexual violence within the Church had shocked the conscience of the believers. The nun who had revealed the entire incident was now living a life of imprisonment even as the offender was allowed to discharge his duties.

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Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now

Police fail to take Vatican’s take on sex abuse case

They were denied the audience because they had not taken prior permission

A Kerala Police team probing the case relating to a Catholic bishop accused of sexually abusing a nun arrived here on Saturday to record the statement of the Vatican representative but failed to do so, as they had not taken prior permission for it.

The team is now expected to travel to Punjab in the coming days where they will meet the accused, Franco Mulakkal, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Jalandhar.

According to the probe team, they will return on Monday to the Vatican Embassy, as they have now applied for permission.

The six-member team led by Deputy Superintendent of Police A.T. Subhash, in its first stop in Delhi, was to take statement on Saturday from a Delhi-based couple who raised a complaint against the nun. The team met them, but they told the police that their complaint against the nun was based on a misunderstanding and now they have no complaints against her.

According to the police team, they will now meet the Ujjain Bishop of the Catholic dioceses, as the nun had informed this bishop about the way she was subjected to abuse. The nun alleged in June that Bishop Mulakkal sexually abused her several times at a convent in Kuruvalangadu, near Kottayam, between 2014 and 2016.

An FIR was registered against the Bishop and a 114-page detailed statement was taken from the nun and other inmates of the convent. Mulakkal, however, denies any wrongdoing.

Statements were also taken from the head of the Syro-Malabar Church Cardinal Mar George Alencherry and a few other former nuns who were residents at the convent.

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Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now

HC rejects plea to arrest Jalandhar Bishop

Kerala judge says probe so far conducted in nun rape case could not be faulted

The Kerala High Court on Monday turned down a plea for a directive to arrest Franco Mulakkal, the Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Jalandhar, in a nun rape case.

Justice B. Sudheendra Kumar, however, asked the police to take a decision on the arrest at the earliest.

The court directed the church authorities not to circulate any leaflet or pamphlet touching on the moral character of the survivor. If any such thing was circulated, police should take immediate steps in accordance with the law. The petitioner alleged that the church authorities had circulated a leaflet against the nun among the faithful. Dismissing the plea by the Kerala Catholic Church Reformation Movement (KCRM), Pala, the judge said the court had no role to play in the arrest of an accused. The court said the investigation so far conducted could not be faulted. Nor could it be said the investigation team was lackadaisical.

The steps taken by the investigation officer showed that the team had adopted a proactive role in investigation. Merely because the accused was yet to be arrested was not a ground to contend that the investigation was not on the right track.

The court also agreed with an argument of the Additional Deputy Director of Prosecution that the investigation officer had to collect materials to prima face support the allegation against the Bishop before arresting him. Besides, the investigation team was now conducting the probe at Jalandhar in Punjab.

The court, therefore, observed that there was no need for a court-monitored, time-bound investigation as pleaded by the petitioner. The petitioner had alleged that despite registering an FIR on June 28 and recording the statement of the nun under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the Bishop was yet to be arrested or interrogated.

Meanwhile, in a statement filed in response to a petition by K. George Joseph of the KCRM, Kottayam Deputy Superintendent of Police K. Subhash, the investigating officer, said the probe so far had revealed that Franco Mulakkal had raped the nun on several occasions at the guest room of the St. Francis Mission Home at Kuruvilangad.

The officer said medical examination also revealed that she was subjected to rape. A Jalandhar report quoted Mr. Subhash as saying that seven people were questioned in the case. “More people will be questioned. We will also go to Amritsar for investigation while Franco Mulakkal will not be questioned on Monday,” he said.

(With ANI inputs)

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Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now

Team to collect more proof against bishop

Need to iron out inconsistencies: IG

The police team probing the alleged sexual abuse of a nun by Bishop Franco Mulakkal of the Catholic Diocese in Jalandhar has been directed to collect more evidence in the case before proceeding any further.

A directive on bringing clarity to a few more aspects was issued by Inspector General of Police Vijay Sakhare during a meeting to review the progress of the investigation here on Monday midnight. “There are still a few contradictions left that need to be clarified. The case pertains to an incident that took place a few years ago and ironing out these inconsistencies is crucial before initiating further actions,” he said.

He, however, did not rule out the possibility of summoning the bishop to Kerala for an interrogation. “Nothing is stopping us from subjecting the accused to interrogation and we will do it whenever required. For the time being, the focus is on collecting more evidences to help a systematic investigation,” the official added.

The meeting, held at the official residence of the IG, was attended by Hari Sankar, Superintendent of Police, Kottayam, and K. Subash, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Vaikom, who heads the investigation team. Earlier on Monday, the IG had briefed the State Police Chief on the investigation during a meeting in Thiruvananthapuram.

Interrogation

Last month, the police team subjected the bishop to marathon interrogation at the Bishop House in Jalandhar and seized one of his mobile phones, a laptop and the hard disc of his computer. The police have also recorded about 70 persons in this connection.

In response to a petition, the investigation team had earlier told the Kerala high Court that the probe so far revealed that Bishop Mulakkal had raped the nun on several occasions at the guest room of the St. Francis Mission Home at Kuruvilangad. A few days ago, the victim lodged a police complaint citing that she had been facing threats to her life and alleged that a person close to the bishop influenced one of her staff to damage her two-wheeler’s brakes, putting her life at risk.

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Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now

HC calls for report on progress of probe

Allegation of rape against bishop

A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Monday asked the State government to inform the court about the progress of the investigation into the allegation of rape levelled by a nun against Jalandhar bishop Franco Mulakkal.

The Bench comprising Chief Justice Hrishikesh Roy and Justice A.K.Jayasankaran Nambiar passed the order while hearing two public interest litigations filed by the Kerala Catholic Church Reformation Movement, Pala, and George Vattukkulam from Thrissur seeking a directive to arrest the bishop and to conduct a time-bound investigation.

The court orally observed that nobody was above law and no one should have any misconception about it.

The counsel for the petitioner submitted that the police had filed a report in the High Court earlier saying the evidence collected so far revealed that the accused bishop committed an unnatural offence and committed rape repeatedly on different dates on the victim.

Despite the evidence, no steps had been taken to arrest the bishop, the counsel argued.

The delay in the arrest had given an opportunity for the accused to intimidate the witnesses.

The counsel pointed out that while disposing of a petition filed by the Catholic Reform Movement earlier seeking arrest, a single judge had observed that it was within the discretion of the investigation officer to take a call on the arrest of the bishop after interrogating him.

It was also submitted that notwithstanding the lodging of a complaint with the Kuravilangad police station by one of the nuns who had deposed before the investigation officer that there was threat to her life as well as the lives of other witnesses, no case had been registered by the police till date and no protection had been given to them.

The government pleader then sought two days time to get instructions from the police and report on the progress of the investigation.

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Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now

Kerala nun writes to Vatican envoy against Jalandhar diocese bishop

Former judge of Kerala High Court Kemal Pasha at a meeting organised in support of the demand for the arrest of Jalandhar bishop Franco Mulakkal in Kochi on Sunday.

Former judge of Kerala High Court Kemal Pasha at a meeting organised in support of the demand for the arrest of Jalandhar bishop Franco Mulakkal in Kochi on Sunday.  

A nun who has accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal of the Jalandhar diocese of raping her has petitioned the Vatican representative in India, alleging that the clergyman was using “political and money power” to bury the case, and sought his removal from the post.

In a letter to Giambattista Diquattro, Vatican’s Apostolic Nuncio (a diplomatic mission), the nun said she had turned to the church authorities for justice.

She alleged that the bishop and his close associates “are using the wealth of the diocese to divert” the course of the police investigation.

Her missive comes amid protests by a group of nuns and others against the delay in taking action against the bishop, who has been accused of rape and unnatural sex with the complainant multiple times between 2014 and 2016.

 

“They are arranging people to attack us, and bishop Franco is using his political power and money to get higher authorities of the investigation and the government to bury legal proceedings that I have filed against him,” the nun charged.

In the September 8 letter, a copy of which is available with the media, she alleged that the bishop and his associates were luring people to take a stand supportive of them by assuring them properties and other forms of wealth. Noting that she had filed the complaint against the bishop two months ago, the nun claimed even though the Special Investigation Team probing the charge was convinced of the proof, they were not able to arrest him because of his political and economic power. Copies of the letter were sent to 21 others, including the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) President Cardinal Oswald Gracias and Delhi Metropolitan Archbishop, Anil Couto.

“Being a religious sister who is denied justice from the congregation authority and from the Church authority of Latin and Syro Malabar Churches, once again I implore your mercy on my situation.

“I beg the Church authorities to kindly make a speedy enquiry about this case and remove Bishop Franco from his responsibilities as the spiritual leader of the diocese,” the nun said.

The letter surfaced as the protest by various Catholic reform organisations in Kochi seeking justice for the nun entered the fourth day on Tuesday.

Workers of various organisations continued to visit the protest venue extending their support.

The protesters, including five fellow nuns of the rape survivor, said they would continue their agitation till action was taken against the bishop.

They have alleged that top police officials were trying to sabotage the probe.

With the police facing heat, a senior official on Monday said the bishop may be summoned to Kerala for interrogation.

Meanwhile, a pro-church outfit Catholic Federation of India alleged there was “mystery” behind the nun’s charges.

Alleging a conspiracy to destroy the Church in Kerala, it demanded a judicial probe into the whole episode.

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Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now

Kerala police asks Jalandhar bishop to appear before probe team

The fast organised by the Joint Christian Council demanding the arrest of Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal in Kochi on Saturday.

The fast organised by the Joint Christian Council demanding the arrest of Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal in Kochi on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

The nun had recently sought urgent intervention of the Vatican for justice and demanded the bishop’s removal as the head of the Jalandhar diocese

The police team probing the alleged sexual abuse of a nun has summoned Bishop Franco Mulakkal of the Roman Catholic Diocese in Jalandhar to Kerala for interrogation on September 19.

The decision to serve the notice under Cr.PC Section 41 was taken at a meeting convened by Inspector-General of Police (Kochi range) Vijay Sakhare here on Wednesday.

The meeting was attended by Hari Sankar, Superintendent of Police, Kottayam, and K. Subash, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Vaikom, who is heading the investigation team.

Confirming the move, Mr. Sakhare said a lot of contradictions had to be ironed out before a chargesheet was filed.

“The case pertains to an incident that took place a few years ago and it has been difficult to gather scientific evidence,” Mr. Sakhare said.

Mr. Sakhare said that discrepancies have to be sorted out in the rape allegation against Bishop Franco Mulakkal. He has been summoned to Kerala for interrogation.

“There are still a few contradictions that need to be clarified and ironing out these inconsistencies is crucial before filing the charge sheet or else it may help the accused,” the IG said.

The case is being reviewed on a day-to-day basis and a report regarding the progress of the investigation will soon be filed in the Kerala High Court, Mr. Sakhare added.

Official sources said the bishop would be subjected to interrogation by the Vaikom Deputy SP at Ettumanur police station, Kottayam.

Regarding a police complaint lodged by the victim that she had been facing threats to her life, the IG said adequate security had been given to both the victim and witnesses even before they received it.

Last month, the police team subjected the bishop to marathon interrogation at the Bishop House in Jalandhar. The police have also recorded statements of several persons. In response to a petition, the team had earlier told the Kerala HC that the probe so far revealed that Franco Mulakkal had raped the nun on several occasions at the guest room of the St. Francis Mission Home at Kuruvilangad.

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Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now

Govt with the victim: Jayarajan

Says police investigation proceeding in the right direction

Industries Minister E.P. Jayarajan has said that the government is with the victim (who has raised allegations of sexual exploitation against Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal).

Replying to questions at a news conference here on Wednesday, Mr. Jayarajan said the police investigation in the case was on track. “The nuns’ agitation is painful. The government is with the victims, with the nuns. The government views their demands very seriously and will take the most appropriate stand. The police have their own method of investigation. They must collect all the evidences to ensure that there is a fool-proof case and no guilty person escapes punishment. You need not worry. The police investigation is proceeding in the right direction,” Mr. Jayarajan said.

On the allegation against CPI(M) Shoranur MLA P.K. Sasi, he said the complaint that had been handed over to the CPI(M) State secretary could not be treated as a complaint given to the police. “A complaint meant for the police should be given to the police, and a complaint meant for the Chief Minister should be handed over to the Chief Minister. The complaint given to the party secretary will be handled in accordance with the party’s procedures,” Mr. Jayarajan said.

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Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now

Public support for nuns’ protest grows

They demand justice for nun who accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal of raping her

Support continued to pour in on Wednesday for the protest at Vanchi Square at High Court Junction here where five Catholic nuns are on a sit-in under the Save Our Sisters (SOS) Action Council since Saturday demanding justice to a nun who had accused Jalandhar bishop Franco Mulakkal of raping her.

Among those who arrived at Vanchi Square in solidarity with the nuns and to demand the arrest of the bishop were Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president M.M. Hassan, Bharatiya Janata Party State general secretaries A.N. Radhakrishnan and Sobha Surendran, All India Congress Committee member Deepthi Mary Varghese, Revolutionary Marxist Party leader K.K. Rema, poet Kalpetta Narayanan, writer P.F. Mathews, M.V. Benny and Sunil P. Ilayidom and film couple Aashique Abu and Rima Kallingal.

Singer Shahbaz Aman sang an old Christian devotional song.

Critic Sunil P. Ilayidom said Kerala had shown an amazing example of brotherhood and camaraderie during the floods to save and support the flood-hit. “I hope society will show the same in this issue as well,” he said.

Fight to continue

Sr. Anupama, one of the nuns who is part of the Missionaries of Jesus on protest, told The Hindu that they would continue to fight till justice was delivered to the survivor.

“The bishop seems to be using his political connections and money power. That’s why he remains untouched by the police. If it was an ordinary citizen, he would be already behind bars,” she said.

Inaction questioned

CPI(M) leader M.M. Lawrence questioned the police for inaction in the case.

“I heard the police have summoned him here for questioning. But what were the DGP and his team doing until now? Isn’t he the State’s DGP and responsible for the overall safety of all the people in the State? It shouldn’t be the way it is,” Mr. Lawrence said at Vanchi Square.

Making it clear that he was not at the venue as a representative of his party, Mr. Lawrence said the accused was now attempting to portray the nuns’ agitation and the demand for his arrest as a protest against the Church.

“This is a deft ploy to win over the support of blind believers,” he said, declaring his solidarity with the complainant. He also sought to defend his party, which is leading the ruling coalition, saying it had always braved challenges.

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Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now

Nuns rebut Missionaries of Jesus probe report

Congregation’s preliminary inquiry alleges conspiracy against Jalandhar bishop Franco Mulakkal

A day after the Save Our Sisters (SOS) Action Council announced its decision to expand its ongoing protest by five Catholic nuns at High Court Junction demanding justice for a nun allegedly raped by Jalandhar bishop Franco Mulakkal to the rest of the State from Monday, the Jalandhar-based Missionaries of Jesus (MJ) congregation has come out with its preliminary inquiry commission report in the case that effectively absolved the bishop of the charge while casting aspersions on the integrity of the victim and the nuns supporting her.

The report featuring six ‘findings’ dubbed the stir a conspiracy against the bishop. However, sister Anupama, one of the protesting nuns, gave a point-to-point rebuttal to the finding.

The report said the five nuns protesting in support of the victim had made an unauthorised return to the Kuravilangad convent after being transferred to other convents following an official transfer made by the Church. They had conspired with “four outsiders’’. However, Sister Anupama challenged the commission to reveal the identity of the outsiders.

The visitors’ diary at the Kuravilangad convent was maintained by an acquaintance of the victim and the entries were often made without being counter-signed by guests, the report alleged. The diary was manipulated as part of a preconceived plan to create evidence.

Sister Anupama said the visitors’ diary is updated every month and discrepancies, if any, could have already been detected. The diary is now with the police who can easily verify it.

The report accuses the nuns of having forcibly shifted the controlling system of CCTV cameras in the convent, supposed to be under the control of the mother superior, to their rooms. Sister Anupama said the CCTVs remain where they were before.

The commission’s report said the attendance of the victim along with the bishop in many events at her instance even during the two-year period between 2014 and 2016 when she was allegedly raped by the latter was evidence of the allegation being a conspiracy.

This was dismissed by Sister Anupama, who said that as someone holding the charge of the convent, she might have attended such functions taking permission from the mother superior.

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Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now

Kerala nuns protest: ‘Fight will continue till Bishop Franco Mulakkal’s arrest’

Priests visiting the protesting nuns in Kochi on Saturday.

Priests visiting the protesting nuns in Kochi on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Say govt stance on the issue not yet clear

The five nuns participating in the ongoing protest organised by the Save Our Sisters (SOS) Action Council against Bishop Franco Mulakkal, head of the Jalandhar diocese of the Catholic Church, have said that their agitation will end only after the bishop’s arrest for allegedly raping a nun.

Sister Anupama of the Missionaries of Jesus under the Jalandhar diocese said here on Saturday that the bishop’s decision to hand over charges to vicar general Mathew Kokkandam was a normal practice in the Church administration and it could not be considered as a victory for the agitation.

“Our fight is to ensure justice for the victim and it will continue till the bishop is arrested and interrogated by the investigating team,” she said at the Vanchi Square near the Office of the Inspector General, Kochi Range.

Sister Anupama pointed out that they were not fighting against the Church, the police and the government. The Church authorities had not supported us despite our repeated pleas seeking justice for the victim. V.S. Achuthanandan, former Chief Minister, had called us to extend support for our struggle. ‘‘We are not yet clear about the stance adopted by the government. However, we hope that the police will arrest the bishop,’’ she said.

Fr. Augustine Vattoly, convener of the council, said they would file a complaint before the Commissioner of Police, Kochi, seeking the arrest of those at the Missionaries of Jesus responsible for releasing a photograph of the victim seated with her alleged tormentor. This act was a punishable offence according to Section 228A of the IPC, he said.

A case was registered against the Missionaries of Jesus by the Kuravilangadu police in Kottayam district on a complaint filed by the alleged victim’s brother demanding action against those who had released her photo.

The support for the ongoing protest continued to pour in from various quarters. Eight priests led by Fr. Paul Thelakkat, former spokesperson of the Syro Malabar Church, visited the protest site and extended their support to the agitation. Fr. Thelakkat urged the Vatican to ensure justice to the protesting nuns and the victim.

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Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now

Kerala nun rape case: Bishop Franco Mulakkal moves HC seeking anticipatory bail

In a police complaint, the nun had alleged that she has been raped and sexually exploited 14-times by the bishop since May 2014.

Jalandhar bishop Franco Mulakkal, accused of raping a nun, on Tuesday moved the Kerala High Court for anticipatory bail, claiming that the allegations were “wholly concocted and cooked up, only to wreak vengeance.” He is scheduled to appear before the special investigation team of the Kerala police for questioning on Wednesday. The High Court adjourned the hearing to September 25.

When the petition came up, Director-General of Prosecution Manjeri Sreedharan Nair said a few pending public interest litigation petitions for his arrest would come up for further hearing on September 24.

Besides, he wanted to get instructions from the police in the case. He, therefore, sought adjournment of the hearing.

The bishop, in his petition, said the nun was removed from the post of Mother Superior and Kerala-in-charge on a complaint from her cousin and another nun. Therefore, she was inimical towards him as she was under the belief that he was the one who had taken action against her. Meanwhile, the sister of the nun said she expected the court to deliver justice as their protest entered the 11th day.

The nun and her family members had warned him of dire consequences if he continued to take adverse action against her, the bishop claimed. The complaint of the nun was “nothing but a fictional story” to “bring down the applicant who is holding a very high post in the congregation.”

The case was registered by the Kuravilangad police in Kottayam district on a complaint by the nun, who belonged to the Missionaries of Jesus under the Jalandhar diocese. She had alleged that she was raped by the bishop from May 5, 2014 to May 6, 2016 on 15 occasions in a room attached to the St. Francis Mission Home, Kuruvilangad. The police had issued a notice to the bishop asking him to appear before the police for interrogation on Wednesday.

The bishop, in his court petition, alleged that in her first statement to the police, the nun did not mention forceful sexual intercourse. Her conspicuous silence of more than four years since the incident was yet another indicator of the false nature of the allegation, he claimed. Meanwhile, Kottayam police have finalised the arrangements for his questioning.

Arrest not ruled out

Speaking to The Hindu, district police chief Hari Sanker said the High Court decision to postpone the hearing, will not stop the police from arresting the bishop if they found enough evidence against him.

To another question, he said the venue of questioning will be finalised at the last minute. According to sources, it could be either in Kottayam district or outside. The police had asked the bishop to be present before the investigating officer. If it is in Kottayam the venue could be the office of the Deputy SP of Vaikom K. Subhash or the facility at Ettumanur.

“The questioning will be done by the team led by the investigating officer, but senior officers including IG Vijay Sakhare and the district police chief will be present to support them,” Mr. Hari Sanker said.

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Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now

Bishop Franco Mulakkal interrogated by Kerala police in nun rape case

Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who was heading the diocese in Jalandhar, is accused of raping a nun in Kerala.

Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who was heading the diocese in Jalandhar, is accused of raping a nun in Kerala.  

The bishop, who was heading the diocese in Jalandhar, reaches the Crime Branch office at Tripunithura on Wednesday morning.

The Kerala police on Wednesday interrogated Franco Mulakkal, Catholic bishop of the Syrian Malabar Church, in the nun rape case.

The bishop, who was heading the diocese in Jalandhar, arrived in Kochi on Tuesday evening and left for Thrissur for the night. Around 11 a.m on Wednesday, he reached the Crime Branch office at Tripunithura in a car along with his counsel and another priest.

The interrogation was conducted by a team of police officers, including IG Vijay Sakhare, Kottayam Superintendent of Police Hari Sanker and Vaikom Dy SP K Subhash, the investigating officer in the case.

 

Mr. Sakhare reviewed the preparedness of the team and the progress of investigation into the case early on Wednesday.

The police decided to hold the interrogation at Tripunithura as it has a hi-tech interrogation room. Considering the sensitive nature of the case, alternative arrangements have also been made at Vaikom, Ettumanoor and Kottayam for continuing the interrogation just in case some untoward development hampers the ongoing questioning at Tripunithura.

Nuns' sit-in demanding justice enters 12th day

Meanwhile, at the other end of Kochi, at Vanchi Square in the High Court junction, a sit-in by five nuns of the Missionaries of Jesus demanding the immediate arrest of bishop Franco entered its 12th day.

While the bishop has claimed innocence, and sought anticipatory bail from the Kerala High Court on Tuesday, the hearing on the plea was adjourned to September 25.

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Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now

Bishop Franco Mulakkal relieved of duties

Bishop Franco Mulakkal, accused of raping a nun, leaves after questioning before the special investigation team of the Kerala police, in Thripunithura, Wednesday.

Bishop Franco Mulakkal, accused of raping a nun, leaves after questioning before the special investigation team of the Kerala police, in Thripunithura, Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: A S SATHEESH KOCHI

The interrogation of the Catholic bishop of the Syrian Malabar Church for allegedly raping a nun in Kerala began for the second day on Thursday at the Crime Branch office in Tripunithura.

Pope Francis has accepted the request of Jalandhar bishop Franco Mulakkal that he be temporarily relieved of pastoral duties.

 

A communication from the Apostolic Nunciature in India said, “Having considered all circumstances, the Holy Father has accepted the request of Bishop Mulakkal” and has appointed Agnelo Rufino Gracias, Titular Bishop of Molicunza and Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Bombay, as apostolic administrator of the diocese of Jalandhar.

The development was welcomed by protesters at the 13-day-old agitation and relay hunger strike in Kochi.

Sister Anupama, a Catholic nun who is participating in the stir seeking the arrest of the bishop, said the Vatican’s decision was a sign that the Church was taking the side of the protesters who were seeking justice. The decision would strengthen their protest.

The Save Our Sisters Action Committee announced that five women would start a 24-hour hunger strike on Friday, demanding the bishop’s arrest.

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Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now

Bishop Franco Mulakkal's interrogation in Kerala nun rape case enters third day

Bishop Franco Mulakkal arriving for interrogation at Tripunithura Crime Branch office in Kochi on Friday morning.

Bishop Franco Mulakkal arriving for interrogation at Tripunithura Crime Branch office in Kochi on Friday morning.   | Photo Credit: H. Vibhu

The bishop has been interrogated for over 15 hours in the last two days in the Crime Branch (CB) office at Tripunithura in Kochi on Friday.

The interrogation of bishop Franco Mulakkal, who has been accused by a Kerala nun of raping her, got under way for the third day at the hi-tech interrogation cell in the Crime Branch (CB) office at Tripunithura in Kochi on Friday.

The bishop arrived in a police convoy of three police vehicles from hotel Crowne Plaza at Kundannoor where he had been put up over the last couple of days, at 10:39 a.m.

Kottayam Superintendent of Police Hari Sanker, who is leading the interrogation team, told journalists on Thursday night that the interrogation would be wrapped up on Friday. The bishop has been interrogated for over 15 hours in the last two days.

Police teams sent to undisclosed places

Three police teams were sent out to undisclosed places on Thursday night for what Mr. Sanker said was “for verifying about 10 per cent of the details revealed by the bishop during the interrogation.”

Whether that verification has been completed is not immediately known, though Mr. Sanker had said that it would be wrapped up overnight and the findings available by the time interrogation gets under way on Friday.

The verification results might have come up at a meeting Vijay Sakhare, Inspector of Police, Ernakulam Range, had with Mr. Sanker ahead of Friday’s interrogation.

Issue of arrest

The police may have to take a decision on whether or not to arrest the bishop, who was relieved of his responsibilities as the head of the Jalandhar diocese by the Vatican on Thursday. A plea of anticipatory bail moved by the bishop is set to come up for hearing before the High Court next week and that is also likely to be a factor to be considered by the police before taking any decision on his arrest.

Nuns who were on a sit in at Kochi demanding the bishop's arrest called off their stir following firm indications that the police investigation team would arrest him later in the evening.

The bishop is accused of raping a nun multiple times at a convent at Kuravilangad in Kottayam district between 2014 and 2016.

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Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now

Investigation team unfazed by pressure

Subjects bishop to rigorous questioning for three days before deciding to arrest him

The Special Investigation Team probing the rape of a nun belonging to the Missionaries of Jesus congregation had to face heavy public onslaught, even as they refused to be rushed in their pursuit of clinching evidence before arresting Bishop Franco Mulakkal late Friday night.

The investigation team was under duress with an ongoing sit-in by five nuns of the congregation demanding the arrest of the bishop when it began interrogating for the second time on Wednesday. Rumour was rife from day one about his imminent arrest but the team took its time to verify the veracity of statements made by the bishop over three days at the Crime Branch office at Thripunithura.

In Jalandhar first

The investigation team led by K. Subhash, Dy.SP, Vaikom, had first interrogated the bishop for over nine hours in Jalandhar on August 13. The second round of investigation started here on Wednesday when he was subjected to over seven hours of rigorous questioning followed by over eight-and-a-half hours of further grilling on Thursday. The decision to arrest him came after eight more hours of interrogation on Friday.

While the arrest was widely speculated on Thursday, the bishop was yet again allowed to leave at the end of the interrogation as Mr. Sanker said the interrogation was inconclusive and that a decision regarding arrest could not be made. Meanwhile, Pope Francis allowed bishop Franco to step down as head of the Jalandhar diocese, after it became clear that he would be spending a substantial amount of time in Kerala fighting the case.

The case against the bishop was registered by the Kuravilangad police on June 28, a day after the nun met the police chief with a complaint that the bishop had raped her multiple times at the Kuravilangad convent. This was five days after the Kuravilangad police registered a case against the brother of the nun on a petition filed on behalf of the bishop by the PRO of the Jalandhar diocese.

Kottayam SP handed over both cases to Vaikom Dy.SP on June 29 following which the investigation gathered momentum.

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Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now

Police arrest bishop Franco Mulakkal on rape charge

Bishop Franco Mulakkal being brought for interrogation to the office of Superintendent of Police in Thripunithura on Friday.

Bishop Franco Mulakkal being brought for interrogation to the office of Superintendent of Police in Thripunithura on Friday.   | Photo Credit: H. Vibhu

He will be produced before magistrate on Saturday

After three days of interrogation that exceeded over 23 hours, the Special Investigation Team probing the alleged rape of a nun belonging to the Missionaries of Jesus congregation on Friday arrested Jalandhar bishop Franco Mulakkal accused of the crime.

The bishop was taken in a police vehicle to the Thripunithura taluk hospital for medical examination.

He would be presented before the Magistrate Court, Pala, in Kottayam district, on Saturday. The police have decided to seek three days’ custody for further interrogation.

Kottayam SP Harishankar told reporters that the arrest came after it was established that the rape charge was “reasonably true.”

The bishop has been charged under four counts including rape, illegal confinement and criminal intimidation.

The contention of the accused that the allegation against him was the outcome of a conspiracy had collapsed in the face of the evidence collected by the police and the information gathered after questioning.

He was given reasonable time to have his say and arrested after the contradictions in the evidence given by the nun, the bishop and others were ironed out, the SP said.

Kerala had witnessed a huge public outcry and an unprecedented public protest by five fellow nuns of the victim seeking the bishop’s arrest. Social activists, a majority of them women, jurists, lawyers, writers and artists had come out in support of their agitation.

The nuns called off their agitation late on Friday following his arrest. The bishop has since been admitted to the Kottayam Government Medical College Hospital on account of high blood pressure.

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Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now

Bishop’s arguments blunted with solid proof

Bishop Franco Mulakkal being brought out of the Kottayam Police Club.

Bishop Franco Mulakkal being brought out of the Kottayam Police Club.  

The probe team was armed with painstakingly collected evidence while interrogating the accused

The perceived delay in initiating action against bishop Franco Mulakkal, accused of raping a nun, had indeed made the police an object of curiosity or, worse, scorn.

Unfazed by criticism from all around, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) had moved meticulously, collecting evidence and ironing out inconsistencies before making the final move.

Indeed, so strong was the evidence collected, especially in the second phase of investigation, that it enabled the investigators to wear the bishop down on the second day of interrogation and counter his contention that he was being framed.

The complaint against the bishop was lodged on June 27 when the victim, a nun attached to the St. Francis Mission Home, near Kuravilangad, under the Missionaries of Jesus, filed a complaint accusing the bishop of sexually abusing her on 14 occasions between 2014 and 2016.

During the interrogation, the bishop initially maintained that the victim was avenging the disciplinary action he had initiated against her in May 2017. Armed with evidence of her revealing the ordeal as early as September 2016 through confession at a prayer meeting held at Attappady in Palakkad, the investigators challenged his contention.

That the victim had, besides confessing about the incident, apprised some in the Church hierarchy about the sexual harassment she was subjected to was also brought to bear on the case.

The investigators also called into question the bishop’s statement that he had stayed at a convent at Muthalakkodam on the date of the alleged rape. A verification of the visitors’ register of the mission home established that the bishop had stayed at the convent on all the days of alleged rape and sexual abuse.

Based on the finding, the room where the abuse had allegedly taken place was subjected to scientific examination.

Letters as proof

The SIT also challenged the bishop’s stance that the Jalandhar diocese had never interfered in the affairs of the Missionaries of Jesus. The investigators could obtain letters sent by the accused to the Mother General of the institution seeking disciplinary action against the nun and another letter reminding her about the action that he wanted taken. At a point, the bishop had also denied knowing the victim, which the police could easily challenge by showing an old photograph of the accused seen together with the victim at a function.

While the evidence helped the sleuths to clarify details and reach conclusions, the decision to arrest was taken only after multi-level discussions spread over the three-day-long interrogation.

The team had also sought legal opinion before taking him into custody. Though the team has not confirmed it officially, it is learnt that they are in receipt of more complaints of sexual harassment against the bishop.

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Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now

God and public mediated for us, say nuns

The nuns who ended their protest in Kochi on Saturday being greeted by supporters.

The nuns who ended their protest in Kochi on Saturday being greeted by supporters.   | Photo Credit: H_Vibhu

Say that but for supporters, the case would have been hushed up

The 14-day street protest near the High Court, seeking justice to the nun allegedly subjected to sexual abuse by Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal, drew to a close here on Saturday with a rousing reception to the five nuns who were part of the public agitation.

With the organisers deciding to call off the protest in the wake of the police arresting the accused, a jovial atmosphere prevailed at the sit-in venue here on Saturday morning. “We have seen many protests against the Church, but this one was different. It is for the first time that the Church is facing dissent against its patriarchal social ethos from within,” said Fr. Augustine Vattolly, convener of the Save Our Sisters Action Council that spearheaded the agitation.

Uncertain future

He said the sit-in marked only the first phase of a continuing movement to reform the Church. A meeting of organisations that took part in the protest would be convened in Kochi on Sunday. “We have to make sure that these nuns, who came out of their cloisters to oppose the injustice meted out to their companion, are saved from the wrath of their patriarch,” he added.

Sister Anupama, a protester, thanked everyone who rallied behind them. “But for you, this case would have been hushed up and we would have continued to suffer in silence. We had to open up because our community was silent and also so that no nun, or any other woman, would have to undergo a similar experience again,” she said. She called for continuing support by the public as their future with the Church was uncertain.

Expressing her gratitude to a ‘democratically conscious society,’ Sister Alphi broke down. “God mediated for us in the heaven and people replicated it on earth,” she said. A street-play staged by students of UC College, Aluva, marked the formal end of the event.

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Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now

Rape accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal moves High Court for bail

Rape accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal after being arrested by the Kerala police, in Thirupunithura on Friday, September 21, 2018.

Rape accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal after being arrested by the Kerala police, in Thirupunithura on Friday, September 21, 2018.   | Photo Credit: PTI

The bail petition said that he was arrested while his anticipatory bail petition was pending before the High Court. Therefore, his arrest was improper.

Franco Mulakkal, Bishop, Jalandhar diocese of the Roman Catholic Church, who was arrested on charge of raping a nun filed a bail petition in the Kerala High Court on Monday, September 24, 2018.

His bail plea was earlier dismissed by a Magistrate Court in Pala.

In his bail petition , he said that the allegations levelled by the nun were “wholly concocted and cooked up only to wreak vengeance” for the action taken against the nun.

 

The bail petition said that he was arrested while his anticipatory bail petition was pending before the High Court. Therefore, his arrest was improper.

The petition also pointed out that he was interrogated for eight hours. During the interrogation he had disclosed everything he knew and handed over the material in his possession to the police. Therefore, there was no need for keeping him in the custody of police.

He also alleged that the police were trying to create false scientific evidence. The clothes worn by him while in police custody had been seized for creating false evidence, he claimed.

Besides, his health was fast deteriorating, he said

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Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now

Bishop in judicial custody till Oct 6

Police to intensify probe in three related cases

Bishop Franco Mulakkal, former head of the Catholic diocese of Jalandhar, under arrest in connection with the rape of a nun, has been sent to the sub jail by the Judicial First Class Magistrate Court at Pala. He will be under judicial custody till October 6.

The accused, whose police custody ended by 2.30 p.m. on Monday, was taken to the court by noon. His counsel prayed for bail pointing out that police had completed the investigation with which he had cooperated. The bishop’s counsel told the court that the dress he was wearing had been confiscated by the police and expressed concern that this could be exploited to concoct evidence. The bishop accused the police of collecting his body secretions without consent.

The police sought his judicial custody since there was a precedence of the accused intimidating the survivor and her supporters. The police did not seek further custody of the accused.

The accused was taken to the Pala sub jail by 2 p.m. under heavy security. He is housed in cell No. 3, along with two others charged with petty cases. He was examined by a team of doctors on Monday before being taken to the court.

Other cases

The special investigation team (SIT) led by K. Subhas, Dy.SP, Vaikom, is expected to now concentrate on three other related cases.

In one case, the survivor and her supporters had accused the bishop and his supporters of trying to mortally attack her. In another, the police had charged a case against those who had allegedly intervened on behalf of the bishop to settle the case by offering land and exclusive convent to the protesting nuns. In a third instance, the police have commenced proceedings against Sister Amala, the public relations officer for the Missionaries of Jesus, for releasing a photo of the survivor.

Kottayam District Police Chief Hari Sanker has directed the SIT to complete the investigation within a week.

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Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now

Bishop Muricken visits Franco in jail

Visit a clear message to all stakeholders

On a day the police spread out their net further in the case pertaining to the rape of a nun by Bishop Franco Mulakkal, former bishop of the Catholic diocese of Jalandhar, the bishop who is presently incarcerated at the Pala sub jail had high profile visitors at the jail.

According to Fr. Jose Kakkallil, chancellor of the Catholic diocese of Pala, Rev. Jacob Muricken, auxiliary bishop of Pala, paid a visit to Franco Mulakkal in the jail. “It was just a normal procedure and there is nothing more to it,” said Fr. Kakkalil. Bishop Muricken was accompanied by Fr. Mathew Chandrankunnel.

Bishop Muricken, who arrived at the jail by noon, completed all formalities before speaking to Franco Mulakkal. “The visit lasted only a few minutes,” Fr. Kakkallil said.

Meanwhile, insiders maintained that the visit by Bishop Muricken was a clear message to all stakeholders. It is not only a message to those who are on the war path as to where the Church stood in the case, but also a message to the accused that he has not been abandoned by the Church. It was also a pointer to the public at large.

“The very decision for a bishop to pay a visit to a jailed person is an important step; it is all the more important when a person such as Bishop Muricken, whose moral standing is considered very high in the Church, takes out this responsibility,” they pointed out.

P.C. George, MLA, also paid a visits to Franco Mulakkal in jail on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) served notice on Sr. Amala, public relations officer of the Missionaries of Jesus, in the case pertaining to the publication of a photograph of the survivor. The photo was mailed to mediapersons with the directive that the face of the nun should be edited if published.

In another development, the survivor made a formal complaint to the Kottayam district police chief against Mr. George for the shaming comments he had made against her at a press conference. The complaint has been handed over to K. Subhash, Dy.SP, Vaikom.

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Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now

Nuns meet Kerala CM, allege harassment

The Missionaries of Jesus congregation of Jalandhar met Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan here on Wednesday and complained against the police team probing the case of alleged rape of a nun by a Roman Catholic bishop. Fifteen nuns from the Jalandhar congregation came in support of the accused bishop Franco Mulakkal, a senior member of the country’s Roman Catholic clergy, and alleged that the police investigation into the case was “biased.”

Bishop Mulakkal was arrested on September 21 amid mounting public outrage over allegations of repeatedly raping and sexually assaulting the nun.

“The bishop has been arrested without any evidence. He is a victim of a witch-hunt to tarnish the image of the Missionaries of Jesus,” the nuns alleged. They said the probe team was threatening those who came out in support of the bishop. The nuns also alleged that the investigating team was intruding into the convents without notice.

A magisterial court in Kerala had on September 24 remanded the Kerala priest in 12-day judicial custody. In remand report, the police had said the victim was subjected to rape 13 times by the accused between 2014 and 2016.

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Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now

Kerala High Court rejects Bishop Franco Mulakkal’s bail plea

Bishop Franco Mulakkal arriving for interrogation at Tripunithura Crime Branch office in Kochi on Friday morning.

Bishop Franco Mulakkal arriving for interrogation at Tripunithura Crime Branch office in Kochi on Friday morning.   | Photo Credit: H. Vibhu

The Kerala High Court on Wednesday turned down a bail plea of Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who has been arrested on the charge of raping a nun.

In his petition, he said the allegations levelled by the nun were “wholly concocted and cooked up only to wreak vengeance” for the action taken against her. He argued that the nun was inimical towards him since she was removed from the post of Mother Superior and Kerala in charge on a complaint from her cousin and another nun. His counsel also claimed further detention was not needed since he was interrogated for hours before and after his arrest.

He was arrested on September 21.

The case was registered by the Kuravilangad police in Kottayam district on a complaint by the nun, who belonged to the Missionaries of Jesus under the Jalandhar diocese. She had alleged that she was raped by the bishop from May 5, 2014 to May 6, 2016 on 14 occasions in a room attached to the St. Francis Mission Home, Kuruvilangad.

Opposing the bail plea, the Director General of Prosecution submitted that statements of the witnesses, including five nuns, would have to be recorded under Section 164 of the CrPC.

Besides, investigation had to be carried out in Jalandhar to ascertain the statement of the accused and collect some more evidence. In fact, four other cases were registered in various police stations for trying to influence the witnesses in the case at the instance of the accused bishop.The investigation was at a crucial stage.Therefore, if he was granted bail at this stage, it would impede collection of further evidence, DGP had argued.

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Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now

Bishop Franco Mulakkal’s judicial custody extended by 14 days

Rape accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal after being arrested by the Kerala police, in Thirupunithura on Friday, September 21, 2018.

Rape accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal after being arrested by the Kerala police, in Thirupunithura on Friday, September 21, 2018.   | Photo Credit: PTI

The 54-year-old clergyman was produced before the magistrate’s court at Pala in Kottayam district of Kerala after his judicial custody ended on Saturday.

A Kerala court on Saturday extended by 14 days till October 20 the judicial custody of Roman Catholic bishop Franco Mulakkal, arrested on the charge of repeatedly raping and sexually assaulting a nun.

The 54-year-old clergyman was produced before the magistrate’s court at Pala in Kottayam district after his judicial custody ended on Saturday.

Sources said his lawyers were planning to approach the Kerala High Court once again, seeking bail.

On Wednesday, the High Court dismissed Mulakkal’s bail plea on Wednesday while accepting the prosecution’s argument that the accused, holding a high position in society, may try to influence the witnesses in the case if he were granted bail.

The police had said the investigation in the case was progressing even after the arrest of the accused.

Mulakkal is currently lodged in a sub-jail in Pala.

Nun’s charge

In her complaint to the Kottayam police in June, the nun alleged that Mulakkal raped her at a guest house in Kuravilangad in May 2014 and subsequently, sexually exploited her on several occasions.

The nun had said she had to approach the police as the church authorities did not act on her repeated complaints against the clergyman.

However, Mulakkal has denied the charges.

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Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Kerala nun rape case: the story till now

Bishop Franco Mulakkal gets conditional bail in nun rape case, told not to enter Kerala

Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who was heading the diocese in Jalandhar, is accused of raping a nun in Kerala. File

Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who was heading the diocese in Jalandhar, is accused of raping a nun in Kerala. File  

He was also asked surrender his passport before the subordinate court concerned.

The Kerala High Court on Monday granted bail to bishop Franco Mulakkal, an accused in a case relating to alleged rape of a nun, on stringent conditions.

The court's conditions are that he should appear before the investigating officers once every fortnight; not enter Kerala except for appearing before the officers; and surrender his passport before the subordinate court concerned.

The bishop in his second bail petition said the High Court had dismissed his bail plea citing the reason that the statements of several witnesses would have to be recorded. In fact, the statements of the witnesses under Section 164 of CrPC had been recorded now. Therefore, the prosecution did not harbour any fear now that the witnesses would be threatened or influenced. Besides, he no longer held the charge of the Jalandhar diocese. As a result, he was not in a domineering position at this stage to influence the witnesses or tamper with the evidence as apprehended by the prosecution.

Mulakkal has been in jail since his arrest on September 21, 2018. The case was registered by the Kuravilangad police in Kottayam district on a complaint by the nun, who belonged to the Missionaries of Jesus under the Jalandhar diocese. She had alleged that she was raped by the bishop from May 5, 2014 to May 6, 2016 on 14 occasions in a room attached to the St. Francis Mission Home, Kuruvilangad.

In his petition, Mulakkal said the allegations were “wholly concocted and cooked up only to wreak vengeance” for the action taken against her. His counsel argued that the nun was inimical towards him since she was removed from the post of Mother Superior and Kerala in-charge on a complaint from her cousin and another nun. His counsel also claimed that further detention was not needed since he had been interrogated for hours before and after his arrest.

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