Bishop Franco Mulakkal has been acquitted by a trial court in Kottayam in the Nun rape case today. The Bishop was arrested in 2018 and the case has been going on since 2020.
An additional sessions court acquitted the Bishop today. Before leaving the court her said, Daivathinu sthuthi (Praise the Lord!)”. He reportedly broke down in court and embraced his lawyers after the verdict was given.
Mulakkal was arrested in September 2018. The survivor, who is a 44-year-old woman, filed a complaint against bishop Franco Mullakkal, who was the head of the Latin diocese of Jalandhar in 2018. She had alleged that Mullakkal had raped her 13 times between 2014 and 2016 at the church guest house in Kuzhavilangad. She also alleged that the Catholic Church neglected her complaints and did not take any action in the case. It was only after the church hierarchy ignored her voice along with the resistance from several nuns who supported her, they all staged protests against the Catholic church exposing the Church’s misogyny and patriarchal structure.
Mulakkal was the first Indian Catholic bishop to be arrested in a rape case. He was lodged in judicial custody for 25 days after his arrest. The trail in the case commenced in 2020. The bishop had earlier requested the High court and Supreme court to quash the charges. The court refused to entertain the request.
“This is an extremely unfortunate verdict, it is shocking for us. We had expected a conviction fully. We will appeal. We had a lot of corroborative evidence. All the witnesses in the case were ordinary people,” Officer S Harisankar, former Kottayam SP, who was investigating the case, told reporters.
On January 10 the court said that the verdict in the case will be reserved for January 14, Friday. Read more about it here.
The Bishop claimed that the story was ‘fabricated’. Mulakkal faced a slew of charges including illegal confinement, sexual harassment through abuse of power, unnatural sex, rape and outraging the modesty of a woman.