Rape of nun: probe moves outside Kerala

Rape of nun: probe moves outside Kerala

Franco Mulakkal, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Jalandhar (File photo)

A police team from Kottayam left for New Delhi on Friday in connection with an investigation into the alleged rape of a nun by Franco Mulakkal, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Jalandhar.

The six-member team led by Vaikom DySP K Subash is expected to record the statement of the Bishop in Jalandhar in the next couple of days.

The nun had, in a petition filed with police in Kuravilangad in Kottayam district on June 27, alleged that the 54-year-old Bishop raped her multiple times over two years since 2014, at a convent guest house in Kottayam. The Bishop has denied the allegation.

Mulakkal has found support from the Church through a counter-charge against the nun, a member of Missionaries of Jesus, that she was raising the allegation to resist disciplinary action initiated against her.

The probe team is also likely to record statements in connection with allegations made against the nun, including of having had a relationship with a married man.

State Police Chief Loknath Behera had reviewed progress made in the investigation amid allegations of delay in the probe before giving the team a go-ahead for the Jalandhar visit.

The probe team is set to take a decision on arresting the Jalandhar Bishop based on his statement. The Bishop has not moved a plea for anticipatory bail.

Bid to influence

The case has revived questions regarding the intent of the Catholic Church in addressing concerns over recurring sexual abuse allegations.

Earlier in the week, Fr James Erthayil, a priest attached to the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate, called a nun – a supporter of the complainant – on her phone and made offers of land and other benefits in exchange of a withdrawal of the complaint.

After the voice record of their conversation was made public, the priest was removed from his position in a church facility in Kurianad, in Kottayam district.