MUMBAI, India – A bishop accused of raping a nun in India says he feels like he is “under severe mental torture” as he continues to assert his innocence.
Bishop Franco Mulakkal has been accused of raping a nun on 13 different occasions between 2014-2016. The nun went to the police in the southern state of Kerala on June 29, and the civil authorities have since then been investigating the charges.
Mulakkal has vehemently denied the charges, and says the nun is retaliating against him for investigating a complaint she had an affair with a married man.
In brief comments to Crux, the bishop said he is “totally tense” with “deep sorrow” and is feeling “totally helpless” during what he has termed a “media trial.”
“What cannot be changed should be endured. That’s what I’m trying to do,” he said.
Mulakkal is the Bishop of Jalandhar, in the northwestern Punjab state, the same state where the nun’s order – the Missionaries of Jesus – is headquartered.
The sexual assaults were alleged to have taken place at the order’s convent in Kuravilangad in the southern state of Kerala. The police in Kerala are conducting the investigation.
The religious congregation has sided with the bishop, and on Friday released the results of their own internal investigation of the matter, which asserts that the nun making the allegations, along with five other nuns and four others, framed Mulakkal in the case.
The Missionaries of Jesus accused them of tampering with the visitors’ register and CCTV camera at the convent where the rapes were said to have happened.
The nun had once held a leadership position in her order, but the relationship between her and her current superiors has obviously been strained by her accusations against the bishop, a longtime friend of the congregation.
The inquiry said the nuns in question had violated the policies of the congregation several times, and some of them even refused to renew their vows.
They also released a May 23, 2015 photograph of the nun attending a private function along with Bishop Franco Mulakkal, drawing fire for identifying an alleged victim of sexual abuse in violation of Indian law.
The congregation said its actions didn’t violate the law, since they didn’t publish the picture in public media. Despite this claim, police registered a complaint against the order.
The Friday statement said the photograph was proof the rape allegation was untrue.
“The Missionaries of Jesus has understood that the allegations about the Bishop repeatedly raping the nun multiple times between 2014 and 2016 is false and is part of a conspiracy. In the month of May in 2015, the sister had invited the Bishop for a function and even after that, it has been found that the sister has taken part in a lot of functions with the Bishop. Any woman, who was raped by a man, would never attend functions or travel with that man. This is a truth that cannot be denied,” it read.
The order also said those involved in the “conspiracy” were influenced by “atheists.”
On Monday the order released a statement saying the nun making the accusation had “questionable relations with a local taxi driver” and “a physical relationship with a relative’s husband.”
The same statement said Mulakkal was an “innocent soul” who is being “crucified.”
On Thursday, the bishop got good news from the Kerala High Court, which said it wasn’t necessary to arrest him.
Noting the case involves allegations of historic abuse, which takes longer to investigate, the court said, “not the arrest but final punishment of the accused is more important.”
The police officer in charge of the investigation, Hari Shankar, said there were many discrepancies in the testimony gathered in the case.
“Taking into account that the case is four years old, it might be difficult to recall things correctly. There are discrepancies in documents and facts that have now come up and hence we have expanded the probe team,” he said.
The next hearing in the case is due to take place on Sep. 24.