Why was Former Bishop Franco Mulakkal Acquitted in the 2018 Rape Case?

By: NH Desk
17 Jan 2022 12:04:17 PM Newshound India Desk

A district court in Kottayam, Kerala, acquitted Bishop Franco Mulakkal, former head of the Latin Catholic Diocese of Jalandhar, on Friday of all charges related to a rape complaint filed by a nun in the same diocese, The Hindu reported.


Additional Sessions Judge, G Gopakumar Kottayam, delivered the highly awaited verdict, which ran for 289 pages. It concluded that there was no evidence against the bishop except the victim's testimony.


“The testimony of the victim was inconsistent and riddled with variations posing questions on her credibility,” Justice Gopakumar noted in the verdict, “The entire case was built around some obscene messages sent by the accused to the phone of the victim but the mobile phones of the victim and that prosecution witness to whom the victim forwarded the messages from the accused were not produced.”


Additionally, the court noted that the letters written by the prosecutrix and her companion sisters would prove that they had issues with one Sister Tincy, the new Mother General. A report of a three-member probe committee said that the congregation members were engaging in mudslinging. 


Thus, the Court held that the evidence on record did not prove that the measures against the accused were acts of vengeance for not yielding to the sexual desires of the accused.


Following the judgement, Mulakkal had broken down in the courtroom and embraced his lawyers. Later, when cornered by media persons outside the court, he said, “Praise the Lord.”


The former bishop Mulakkal was arrested on September 21, 2018, based on a rape complaint lodged by a nun on June 29 of the same year. He was in jail for 25 days after the court remanded him.


The chargesheet against Mulakkal ran around 2,000 pages long in three volumes and was submitted to the court on April 4, 2019. The trial in the case commenced in November 2019 and concluded on January 10. Of the 83 witnesses listed by the prosecution, 39 were examined during the trial.


The witnesses included Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church, Cardinal Mar George Alencherry, Bishop Kurian Valiyakandathil, Bishop of Bhagalpur in Bihar, and Bishop Sebastian Vadakkel of the diocese of Ujjain, as well as 11 other priests and 25 nuns.


Mulakkal had consistently maintained that the prosecutrix had fabricated the rape story in retaliation for taking action against her concerning a complaint raised by a woman in 2016 alleging that the nun was having an illicit relationship with her husband. After conducting an inquiry, the bishop had the nun removed from her post as Mother Superior.


The local police had told the court that the bishop first filed a complaint against the nun and the nun filed her complaint a day later. In his complaint, Mulakkal had accused the nun of blackmailing him and threatening her family members to entrap him in a rape case.

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