Sensational nun rape case witnessed several twists and turns

 former Bishop of Jalandhar Diocese Franco Mulakkal
Former Bishop of Jalandhar Diocese Franco Mulakkal. File photo

Kottayam: The sensational case in which Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal was acquitted after being charged with the rape of a nun had shocked Kerala. Even though several priests have faced charges of sexual harassment, Mulakkal was the first Bishop to be accused of the crime. Moreover, as the complainant against the Bishop was a nun, the case attracted widespread attention.

After the charges were raised, a large number of people had taken the sides of the Bishop as well as the nun. A group of nuns had even staged a stir in Kochi demanding justice for the complainant. Later, when the Bishop was released from prison on bail after his arrest, top political leaders including P C George were present to receive him.

First complaint

The case began in 2018 when the Bishop approached the police against the nun and her relatives alleging that they were threatening to file a sexual harassment complaint against him. The Bishop’s complaint was handed over to the State Police Chief by two representatives of Mulakkal, who also met the District Police Chief Harishankar.

According to the Bishop, the nun was raising a false complaint against him because he had removed her from the post of Mother Superior. After the police registered a case based on Mulakkal’s petition, the nun submitted her complaint to the District Police Chief.

Nun's charges

In her complaint, the nun alleged that she was sexually harassed by the Bishop several times between 2014 and 2018. Even though she had approached the higher authorities in the Church, she was subjected to mental torture, said the nun. When she could no longer bear the torture, she complained to the police, added the nun.

The first rape took place on April 24, 2014, said the complaint. It was in room no: 20 of the guest house of the convent at Kuruvilangad when the Bishop had reached Thrissur to take part in a function. The nun said that the Bishop had summoned her to the room. Mulakkal often stayed at the Kuruvilangad convent whenever he visited the area even though a ladies hostel and home for the elderly functioned there, she said.

Later, after he had returned to Jalandhar, the Bishop had contacted the nun over phone and spoke to her in an indecent manner, which compelled her to file a complaint with the Church authorities, she said.

According to the nun, she had also met Cardinal Mar George Alencherry and raised the issue. However, he expressed helplessness as the convent was under the Latin archdiocese. She subsequently informed the matter to Pala Bishop House through the vicar of Kuruvilangad Church. Afterwards, a compliant was submitted to the Vatican envoy also. When there was no response even after such efforts she had filed the police complaint, said the nun.

Stir in Kochi

Colleagues of the nun had launched a stir seeking justice for her at High Court Junction in Kochi in September 2018 under the Save Our Sisters Action Council. The agitation was called off only after 14 days, when the Bishop was arrested.

Soon, there were attempts to find a compromise. However, the police registered a case against Fr. James Erthiyil, prior of St. Ann’s Ashram, Kuriyanad and a school manager, who carried out the mediation efforts.

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