The Kerala High Court Monday granted conditional bail to Bishop Franco Mulakkal accused of repeatedly raping and sexually assaulting a nun. Granting the bail, the court directed the Bishop to surrender his passport and not to enter Kerala state except for appearing before the probe officer once in two weeks on Saturdays. This condition would be applicable till a chargesheet is filed in the case.
The priest had approached the high court for bail after a magistrate court extended his judicial remand. Earlier this month, the HC had also rejected his bail while accepting the prosecution’s stand that giving the accused bail would hamper the course of the investigation.
In her complaint to the Kottayam Police in June, the nun had alleged that Bishop Mulakkal had raped her at a guest house in Kuravilangad in May 2014 and subsequently, sexually exploited her on several occasions over a period of two years from May 5, 2014. She said she had to approach the police as the church authorities did not act even after repeated complaints.
In the remand report submitted in the court, the police said the medical examination confirmed that the nun was sexually assaulted. It said the bishop had used his spiritual authority to exploit the nun. A day with the bishop programme was also misused by the bishop, the report said.
Mulakkal, the first Bishop in the country to be arrested on rape charges, was held after three days of intense questioning in September. Police sources said while Mulakkal, during interrogation, stuck to his claim that he did not rape the nun, he was arrested following contradictions in his statements, circumstantial evidence, statements of witnesses, and the nun’s statement under Section 164 of the CrPC.
The Vatican has temporarily relieved him from the administrative responsibilities of Jalandhar diocese of Missionaries of Jesus.