A local court on Saturday, Nov. 30 extended the bail of former Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal, accused of sexually assaulting a nun between 2014 and 2016, till January 6. Franco was present in the additional sessions court during the hearing, where he arrived after praying in a nearby church. Mulakkal was arrested on September 21, 2018 on rape charges and got bail on October 16, 2018.
The Kerala Police has already filed a 1,400-page chargesheet in the court against him. The trial is expected to start on January 6. The chargesheet names 83 witnesses, including the Cardinal of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, Mar George Alencherry, three bishops, 11 priests and many nuns. After the case came to light, Mulakkal was removed as head of the diocese of Jalandhar.
Who Is Bishop Franco Mulakkal?
Bishop Franco is a high-ranking clergyman from the Syro-Malabar church in Kerala, an independent Catholic church that is affiliated to the Church in Rome. He was born in Kerala in 1964 and was ordained priest in 1990. Franco was made an Auxiliary Bishop in 2009 and he served in Delhi, according to the Catholic Hierarchy website. Pope Francis made him a bishop in 2013 and was moved to Jalandhar. Bishop Franco has a Ph.D. in theology and an MA degree from Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar.
What Are The Charges Against Franco Mulakkal?
- The nun from Kerala, who is also from the Syro-Malabar denomination, says the bishop raped her at her convent in 2014. The sexual violation by the high priest continued over the next two years.
- As the complaint against the Franco merged, the bishop allegedly tried to suppress it and persuaded other nuns to file a false complaint against the nun.
- The relatives of two other nuns from the convent have said the bishop threatened them with ex-communication. The raped nun and others have said the bishop used to send indecent chat messages to them at night.
- A priest from the community also said that several nuns in the church had raised allegations of sexual abuse against the bishop.
- As the abuse saga unfolded the church leadership was pushed on the defensive. The nun and her family reveled that a complaint had been given to the Major Archbishop of the Syro Malabar Church in Kerala last year but no action was taken against the bishop.
However, Bishop Franco said all allegations are false and that the nun was wreaking vengeance on him after he ordered a probe into her alleged misdeeds.
(With inputs from wires)