Thiruvananthapuram, September 22: After a fortified interrogation session, the Kerala police have arrested Bishop Franco Mulakkal for allegedly raping a nun multiple times between 2014 and 2016. With this, Mulakkal has become the first Indian Catholic bishop to be arrested in a case of sexual abuse against a nun.
Bishop Franco Mulakkal was arrested on Friday afternoon in Kochi. He was being interrogated by the police for the past three days. Franco Mulakkal has been posted at the Jalandhar Diocese and he allegedly raped the nun during official visits to Kerala. He has been relieved of his duties at the Jalandhar Diocese.
Before arresting the bishop, the police recorded a fresh statement of the nun who has accused him of rape. They also sought clarifications on evidence.
Police trapped Franco Mulakkal
Bishop Franco Mulakkal was arrested three days after interrogation where the bishop made certain inconsistent statements. While denying the allegations leveled against him, the Mulakkal claimed he did not stay at the convent in Kuravilangad on May 5, 2014, the day the nun was allegedly raped for the first time. He maintained that he only visited the convent and stayed at another convent in Muthalakodam.
When police cross-checked this information with his driver and another nun who made entries of his visit in the register, they found that the bishop and his driver actually stayed in the Kuravilangad convent on the said day. The bishop's version was challenged by another nun in the Muthalakodam convent. She denied that bishop visited the convent.
In June this year, a 44-year-old nun staying in a convent in Kerala's Kuruvilangad had made a police complaint claiming that Bishop Mulakkal had physically assaulted her. According to the complaint of nun, Franco Mulakkal, who is a Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Jalandhar raped her at a guest house in Kuravilangad in May 2014 and later sexually exploited her 14 times.
Nun, who belongs to an institution that functions under the Jalandhar diocese, lodged a complaint before the Kottayam district police chief Harisankar. According to the nun, she had earlier complained about the incident to the Church authorities but no action was taken. However, she was forced to move a police complaint after the Church took no action on her complaint.
On the other side, Bishop Mulakkal has also filed a complaint against the nun in Kottayam police station in front of SP alleging that she was blackmailing him after he initiated disciplinary action against her, including transferring her from the present institution.
A month later complaint was registered; Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar Diocese tried to buy a silence of a 44-year-old Catholic nun who charged him of rape by paying her Rs 5 crores. An audio clip of the same has been released in public domain.
The audio clip revealed a Kerala priest mediating with the victim’s companion, who is also a nun, on the bishop's behalf. The priest could be heard trying to convince the nun to ask her friend to withdraw the police complaint against Bishop Mulakkal and also promising the victim property and a better 'posting' in the diocese in return. He further offered a sum of Rs 5 crore.