The Kottayam Additional District Court in its verdict on Friday in the rape case against former bishop Franco Mulakkal acquitted him in the 2018 complaint filed by a nun.
Kottayam district additional sessions court judge G Gopakumar pronounced the verdict on Wednesday after a trial of 105 days. “Praise the lord,” Franco said after the verdict. Meanwhile, the Jalandhar diocese welcomed the order.
The incident came to light when the nun narrated the incident to the police team who came to quiz her on a complaint of blackmailing filed by the Bishop against the nun and her family members in June 2018. Then she made a formal complaint to the Kottayam district police chief and an FIR was registered on June 27, 2018.
The senior nun had filed a police complaint with Kuravilangad Police against Franco Mulakkal, the Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Jalandhar, Punjab for allegedly sexually abusing her 13 times between 2014 and 2016 in Kerala.
As per the nun’s complaint, the Bishop allegedly raped her at a guest house in Kuravilangad in Kottayam district in May 2014 and later sexually exploited her on 12 occasions. The nun was working in an institution that functions under the diocese in Punjab headed by the Bishop.
The nun also alleged that the Catholic Church ignored the complaint against Bishop Franco Mulakkal and acted in a “surreptitious” manner when it was brought to the notice of its hierarchy.
Earlier, the police had registered a case against the nun and her relatives on a complaint from the 57-year-old Bishop. According to the police, they received the Bishop’s complaint first and the nun filed her complaint a day later. “We have received both the complaints. First, we received the complaint from the Bishop and then the complaint from the nun reached us. We have registered FIRs in both cases. The Vaikom deputy SP has been entrusted with the inquiry,” Kottayam police chief Harishankar told News18 in 2018.
According to sources close to the nun, she had earlier complained about the incident to Cardinal Mar George Alencherry, the then head of the Kerala-based church. However, she was forced to move a police complaint after the Church reportedly took no action on her complaint.
Bishop Mulakkal filed a complaint against the nun and her family members with the Kottayam police chief, alleging that she was blackmailing him after he initiated disciplinary action against her, including transferring her from the present institution. Refusing to obey the orders, she was raising baseless allegations, the Bishop said in his complaint.
Bishop had alleged that the nun’s family members, too, had threatened to entrap him in a rape case if he did not withdraw his order.
The bishop has penned a book titled ‘A theological investigation into the moral teachings of Guru Nànak from a Catholic perspective ‘.
Franco Mulakkal had been charged under 7 IPC sections including rape, and is currently out on bail. The prosecution had examined 39 witnesses in the case.
He had even approached the supreme court to quash the FIR in this case but the petition was dismissed.
The charge sheet against Mulakkal named 83 witnesses, including the Cardinal of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, Mar George Alencherry, three bishops, 11 priests and 22 nuns.
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