Kochi, India, Sep 21, 2018 / 11:01 am. – Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jullundur was arrested by Kerala police Friday over allegations that he raped a nun repeatedly over the course of two years. The bishop denies the accusations.
The Sept. 21 arrest was made in Kochi after three days of interrogation. The bishop will be brought to court Saturday, the BBC reports.
Mulakkal, 54, wrote to the Vatican last week asking to be relieved of administration of his diocese; his request was granted, and Bishop Agnelo Gracias, an Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Bombay, was appointed apostolic administrator of Jullundur Sept. 20.
A nun, who is a member of the Missionaries of Jesus, has said that Bishop Mulakkal raped her during his May 2014 visit to her convent in Kuravilangad, in Kerala. In a 72-page complaint to police, filed June 29, she alleged that the bishop sexually abused her more than a dozen times over two years.
During his questioning by police, Bishop Mulakkal made several inconsistent statements, India Today reported.
According to India Today, the bishop claimed he did not stay at the Kuravilangad convent May 5, 2014, when the nun alleges she was first raped by him, but that he visited the convent, while he stayed the night at a convent in Muthalakodam.
“When police cross-checked this information with his driver and another nun who made entries of his visit in the register, they found that the bishop and his driver actually stayed in the Kuravilangad convent on the said day,” the Uttar Pradesh-based outlet reported.
A nun in the Muthalakodam convent denied he visited them, and data from the bishop’s mobile phone indicated he was present at the Kuravilangad convent that night.
A group of seven nuns, most of them Missionaries of Jesus, began protesting state and Church inaction over the matter Sept. 8 in Kochi.
Bishop Mulakkal has claimed the allegations were made in retaliation against him because he has acted against the nun’s sexual misconduct, the bishop told UCA News. He said the nun was alleged to be having an affair with her cousin’s husband.
Three more women have accused the bishop in recent days of sexual misconduct against them, but the Missionaries of Jesus’ superior general maintains that the bishop is innocent. The congregation is based in the Jullundur diocese, and Bishop Mulakkal is its patron.