Catholic bishop accused of raping nun arrested by Indian police

Blanche Robertson
September 21, 2018

Bishop Franco Mulakkal, accused of rape by a nun in Kerala, has been temporarily relieved of his pastoral responsibilities by the Vatican.

The minister's statement came a day after Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, the state secretary of Kerala's ruling CPI (M), said the protest by nuns in front of the high court for Franco Mulakkal's arrest was "ill-motivated" and part of a political campaign against the Left Front government, news agency PTI reported.

Mulakkal, who has been accused by the nun's of repeated sexual assault between 2014 and 2016, recently temporarily relinquished his administrative responsibilities. "Having considered all circumstances, the Holy Father has accepted the request of Bishop Mulakkal (to relieve him of the powers)", the Catholic Bishops Conference of India said. The officer said that an immediate decision could be taken once the questioning is completed.

On Wednesday, the Jalandhar Bishop was interrogated for almost seven hours since 11 in the morning. He was questioned for 7 hours by the Kerala police SIT on Wednesday.

Police have sought a legal opinion as to whether Mulakkal, whose anticipatory bail plea is pending before the high court, can be arrested.

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A protesting nun said they were all waiting for the news of the arrest of the bishop so a strong message goes out to those who abuse women.

Mulakkal has, however, dismissed the allegations as "baseless and concocted", insisting he was "innocent". "It's been 74 days since she gave a complaint, but other than the police questioning the victim, we don't see any other progress". The nun is a member of the Missionaries of Jesus congregation based in Punjab which runs two convents in Kerala. The statement has also said that the allegations against the bishop are completely baseless.

According to The Indian Express, SP Hari Sankar has said that there is a lack of scientific evidence which could substantiate the rape charges and the delay in informing the police is an impediment.

Mr Sankar told reporters on Friday that the police would now investigate charges of rape, illegal confinement, unnatural sex and intimidation.

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