One more nun’s accusations against Jalandhar’s Bishop Franco Mulakkal of non-consensual exchange of text messages have been revealed through a statement that she had submitted with the Kuravilangad police in September 2018. According to it, the nun alleges that Mulakkal used to send her vulgar messages and behaved inappropriately with her.
A forum called Save Our Sisters (SOS) Action Council released this statement in which she stated, “I used to call him regarding issues related to the convent, and it turned into a friendship. Between 2015 and 2017, we used to send messages on WhatsApp, call each other and do video calls. I was only looking for friendship. But by the end of 2015, his remarks became sexual in nature.”
“I felt hatred and aversion to it and felt it hurt my self-esteem. But he continued to talk obscene things. Later, he would talk about things that were sexual in nature and did video chats describing his body and mine, too,” the 35-year-old nun belonging to Kannur alleged. The nun is a member of the same congregation as the other nun who first accused Mulakkal of raping her between 2014-2016.
In 2018, a Kottayam-based 45-year-old nun accused Mulakkal of raping her multiple times. She also alleged that because of his improper behaviour, at least 20 nuns were forced to leave the congregation. She also alleged that Bishop Mulakkal was using “political and money power” to “bury” the case against him. Meanwhile, Mulakkal rejected all these claims. The catholic church has also used all its might to reportedly bury the case as one of the sisters, who supported the survivor nuns, has been expelled her the Franciscan Clarist Congregation. Sister Lucy Kalapurakkal was allegedly dismissed from the church after she protested against Mullakkal and she has been fighting to continue her work within her faith.
The nun also said in the statement that she wasn’t interested in sexting but was also afraid to defy Mulakkal because of his powerful position in the church. She mentioned the controversy where she was sent to Kerala over friendship with another man.
“Between April and May 2017, I lived in a convent in Kerala. Franco came to the convent to conduct a probe about my conduct. His driver and Father Antony were with the bishop but they lived in separate rooms. Franco called me to his room and asked me for an explanation. While I was leaving, he hugged me and kissed me on my forehead,” she wrote. She ended her statement saying that she called Mulakkal a few times but he never spoke to her again.
A case could not be registered basis this statement but she became the 14th witness in the rape case and her statement became a part of the rape case against Mulakkal and the chargesheet against him.
“I felt hatred and aversion to it and felt it hurt my self-esteem. But he continued to talk obscene things. Later, he would talk about things that were sexual in nature and did video chats describing his body and mine, too.”
Riju Kanjoorkaran, a convener of SOS, told The News Minute that the reason to release her statement now is that the forum got to know that after the nun gave her statement with the police, the church tried to curtail her movement out of the convent. She wasn’t allowed to talk to anyone and as the forum got to know about the church’s misconduct with the nun that they decided to released her statement in public.
Mulakkal was arrested in September 2018 for the first time after his bail plea was rejected by the court. He stepped down from his position a week before his arrest. He was arrested following contradictions in his statements, circumstantial evidence, statements of witnesses and the nun’s statement under Section 164 of the CrPC. He has been booked under 342 (wrongful confinement), 376 (2k) (rape on a woman incapable of giving consent), 376 (2n) (causing grievous bodily harm during rape), 376 (c) (a) 377 (unnatural offence), 506 (1) (criminal intimidation) of the IPC.