Chargesheet filed against rape-accused Franco Mullakal
Ten months after a police complaint, and five years after the crime allegedly took place, ex-Bishop of Jalandhar diocese Franco Mullakkal was formally charged with the crime on Tuesday.
Last June, a nun accused the high-ranking clergyman of raping her for a period of two years, starting April 2014.Some of the charges mentioned include rape, non-consensual non-penile vaginal intercourse, illegal confinement, criminal intimidation and destruction of evidence.
Of the 83 witnesses listed, 25 are nuns and 11 are priests. The statements of 10 main witnesses have been recorded. The charge-sheet has been filed in the first-class judicial magistrate’s court in Pala, Kottayam district.
This is the first time in the country that a charge sheet has been filed against a clergyman of the rank of bishop. “After months of struggle we are happy the case is coming to a logical conclusion...This is the happiest moment for us...truth will prevail finally,” said Sister Anupama, who is one of the five nuns residing at the Missionaries of Jesus Convent in Kuravilangad in Kottayam district that have stood by the complainant, also a resident at the same convent, since she first spoke up against Mullakkal.
In June 2018, when the survivor filed a complaint with the police. She and the nuns, who moved to the convent where she stayed in May, did so after they appealed to the church authorities to take action against him for over a year, but to no avail. When police failed to arrest him, the nuns staged a protest in Kochi in September. A larger support group called Save Our Sisters also urged the police to take action. The complainant wrote a letter to CM Piniyari Vijayan to speed up the arrest. Finally, a Special Investigation Team arrested him on September 22. A day later, he was stripped off his post by the Vatican. He received bail three weeks later, and was received with much pomp back in Jalandhar, where his diocese is based.
Last month, the nuns met the Kottayam SP to submit a petition seeking a speedy submission of the charge sheet. In an interview last year, Mullakkal dismissed the rape charge against him as “false and baseless”.