Indian court denies bail to Catholic bishop accused of rape

Indian court denies bail to Catholic bishop accused of rape

Indian court denies bail to Catholic bishop accused of rape

In a file photo, Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar, India, is led away for questioning by police Sept. 19 on the outskirts of Cochin. (Credit: Sivaram V, Reuters via CNS.)

An Indian bishop accused of raping a nun was denied bail on Wednesday by the Kerala High Court.

MUMBAI, India – An Indian bishop accused of raping a nun was denied bail on Wednesday by the Kerala High Court.

The court said the evidence against Bishop Franco Mulakkal was credible, and that granting bail to the bishop would hamper the investigation of the case.

A 43-year-old nun made a formal police complaint against the bishop in June, claiming he raped her 13 times between 2014 and 2016. The nun is a member of the Punjab-based Missionaries of Jesus congregation, but said the attacks happened at one of the order’s convents in the southern state of Kerala.

Mulakkal is bishop of Jalandhar, which is also in Punjab state, and vehemently denies the charges. He says the nun is retaliating because he initiated an investigation against her for an affair she allegedly had with a married man.

Kerala is the state with the highest percentage of Christians in India and provides many of the clergy and religious throughout the country. The Kuravilangad convent had special housing for Kerala-born clergy visiting home, where Mulakkal stayed when visiting the state.

Mulakkal has been accused by supporters of the nun making the rape accusation of using his influence with political leaders in Kerala to try and block the investigation.

On Oct. 1, three bishops visited Mulakkal in his jail cell in the city of Pala, Kerala. Bishop Mathew Arackal of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Eparchy of Kanjirappally, his auxiliary, Bishop Jose Pulikkal, and Bishop Samuel Irenios Kattukallil, Coadjutor Bishop of the Syro-Malankara Diocese of Pathanamthitta are eastern rite Catholic bishops based in Kerala.

A local member of the state parliament also visited Mulakkal on Tuesday, and several local political leaders have voiced support for the bishop.

The Missionaries of Jesus congregation has steadfastly defended Mulakkal against the accusations made by the nun, who once held a leadership position in the order. The order has also criticized its own members in the Kuravilangad convent for supporting the nun making the accusations, whom the order has confined to her convent.

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