MUMBAI, India – A bishop in India accused of raping a nun on several occasions between 2014 and 2016 was on Monday granted bail after being in jail for over three weeks.
Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar was arrested on Sept. 21 after a months-long investigation and was initially denied bail by the Kerala High Court on Oct. 3.
The same court finally granted bail, but under conditions, including asking the bishop not to enter Kerala after his release from the sub-jail in Kottayam and to surrender his passport. He has also been asked to present himself before the police in the state of Punjab – the location of his diocese – every fortnight. He also has to appear before the investigating officers when requested by them.
The Kerala police objected to the court’s decision, saying it was detrimental to their investigation.
A 43-year-old nun made the 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 in Kuravilangad, the location of one of the order’s convents in the southern state of Kerala.
Mulakkal vehemently denies the charges, and claims the nun is retaliating because he initiated an investigation against her for an affair she allegedly had with a married man.
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.
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.