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Nun rape case: Kerala court acquits former Bishop Franco Mulakkal of all charges

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A Kerala sessions court on Friday acquitted former Bishop of the Jalandhar Diocese Franco Mulakkal, who was accused of raping a 50-year-old nun multiple times, of all charges.

Kottayam Additional Sessions Judge G. Gopakumar delivered a single-line verdict saying the court has not found Mulakkal guilty of the charges. The court had concluded the hearing and reserved its verdict on January 10.

Mulakkal, 57, who was on trial for over 100 days, was the first Catholic bishop in India to go on trial for rape on the complaint of a nun. Mulakkal said the Lord is supreme and that the truth would prevail.

Kottayam Superintendent of Police S. Harishankar, who also supervised the investigation expressed deep shock at the verdict and said they would appeal the verdict as there was enough corroborative and circumstantial evidence.

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The alleged rape of the nun in 2018 was a shocker for the whole Christian community, particularly the Catholic Church, not just in Kerala, but across the country. Following this, the nuns were reportedly targeted and criticized within the church with threats and accusations.

It was alleged that earlier in 2018, with serious accusations against Mulakkal who was then a senior priest, the nun first approached higher officials in the church. However, she received no response.

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In 2018, when Mulakkal was head of the Missionaries of Jesus, a nun from the same missionaries under the Jalandhar diocese had accused him of repeatedly raping her between 2014 and 2016. He had denied the allegations.

The rape case against the Bishop was registered by police in Kottayam district in 2018. In September 2018, Mulakkal was arrested and rape charges were pressed against him by a Special Investigation Team that probed the allegations. The trial in the case had begun in November 2019.

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