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Bishop Franco Mulakkal acquitted in Kerala Nun Rape Case

Bishop Franco Mulakkal moving out of the Kerala court.

The news: Kerala nun rape case accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal has been acquitted by an Additional Sessions court in Kottayam on Friday. Mulakkal had been the bishop of Jalandhar, but once the scandal broke in 2018, he was relieved of his administrative duties.

  • “Daivathinu sthuthi (Praise the Lord!)” Mulakkal exclaimed to reporters as he exited the courtroom. When the verdict was read in court, he sobbed and hugged his lawyers.

The backstory: Mulakkal was arrested in September 2018 on the basis of a nun’s charge that Mulakkal raped her 13 times in her congregation’s mission house in Kottayam district over a two-year period beginning on May 5, 2014.

  • He was the first Indian Catholic bishop to be arrested in a rape case, and after his arrest in September 2018, he was held in judicial prison for 25 days.

What they’re saying: “This is a very terrible decision, and it comes as a shock to us. We had fully expected a conviction. We will file an appeal. We had a lot of evidence to back us up. All the witnesses in the case were common folks,” said former Kottayam SP S Harisankar, the investigating officer.

What happened: On Friday morning, ahead of the announcement of the decision in the high-profile case, tight security was erected outside the Kottayam Additional Sessions Court. The case is notable because it is the first time in India that a Catholic Bishop has been arrested and charged with rape and sexual harassment.

  • The trial began in 2020, and despite Mulakkal’s attempts to have the allegations against him dismissed by the High Court and the Supreme Court, the courts turned down his request.
  • The Bishop denied the rape charges, claiming that the narrative was “manufactured” in reprisal for taking action against her in response to a woman’s complaint.
  • Mulakkal is accused of illegal imprisonment, sexual harassment by abuse of power, unnatural intercourse, rape, and outraging a woman’s modesty, among other things. The officer in charge of the investigation was Vaikkom Dy S P K Subhash.
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