Kerala nun rape case: Timeline of case against Bishop Franco Mulakkal ahead of Friday verdict

India Today [Uttar Pradesh, India]

January 13, 2022

By Rickson Oommen Thiruvananthapuram

A Kerala court is set to deliver verdict in the nun rape case involving Bishop Franco Mulakkal. Here is a timeline on how Franco Mulakkal became the first Catholic bishop in India to be arrested for sexually assaulting a nun.

A Kerala court is set to deliver verdict in the nun rape case involving Bishop Franco Mulakkal. The bishop allegedly raped a nun at her convent several times between 2014 and 2016. Following a complaint, several nuns from the convent protested against the bishop levelling allegations of sexual assault.

Here is a timeline on how Franco Mulakkal became the first Catholic bishop in India to be arrested for sexually assaulting a nun.

June 29, 2018: Kuravilangad police register a case on the basis of a complaint filed by a nun against Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar Diocese. According to the complaint the nun was raped several times by the bishop at Missionaries of Jesus convent.

The complaint came in the wake of a police investigation against her brother based on a petition by said bishop. The bishop had alleged that the nun’s brother had threatened him after an argument about the church punishing her. Earlier he had her removed from the position of mother superior.

July 1, 2018: John Jacob, convenor of the Archdiocesan Movement for Transparency (AMT), the fraternity of devotees in Ernakulam archdiocese, filed a complaint against Cardinal Mar George Alanchery. He accused the cardinal of failing to inform the police about the nun’s rape charge.

July 05, 2018: First-class magistrate in Changancherry records the statement of the nun. It is done in-camera based on a request placed by Special Investigation Team (SIT) in the case. National Commission for Women demands to speed up the investigation.

July 12, 2018: The investigation team seizes visitors’ register from convents at Pariyaram and Panappuzha in Kannur district after it was found that bishop had visited the convents during the time mentioned by the nun.

July 14, 2018: The investigation team records the statements of Pala bishops. They confirm that the nun has spoken about the rape to them but has not given it in writing.

July 24, 2018: Several women organisations submit a memorandum with Vatican’s ambassador in Delhi, Giambattista Diquattro. They requested him to advise the Pope to dismiss the bishop from his position.

July 25, 2018: A relative of the nun comes forward alleging that they have received a huge offer to have the case withdrawn through a friend. After few days, a priest calls a nun who stood with the survivor nun to advise her to withdraw the complaint. The call is exposed in the media. Police recorded the statement of the nun who received it at the convent at Nadukunnu, Kuravilangad.

July 30, 2018: Kuravilangad police register a case against the priest, Father James Erthayil who made the call. Investigation team reaches Delhi to collect evidence. They record the statement of Ujjain Bishop Mar Sebastian Vadakkel as the nun said he knew about the rape.

On the same day then Kuravilangad SI gets transferred as it was alleged that he spoke to a priest siding with the accused.

August 8, 2018: Investigation team arrives in Jalandhar to interrogate Bishop Mulakkal. They record the statements of Sister Regina, Mother General of the Missionaries of Jesus, Sisters Amala and Maria who work at the mission’s office.

August 13, 2018: The bishop’s private security guards man handles media persons and destroys cameras and other equipment. They also attempt to lock media persons inside the bishop’s house.

August 30, 2018: Joint Christian Council (JCC) launches hunger strike in Kochi demanding the arrest of Bishop Mulakkal.

September 11, 2018: The survivor nun writes to Vatican’s ambassador to India. She sought Vatican’s intervention to ensure justice to her. Bishop slams victim alleging that she was sponsored by anti-church people.

September 12, 2018: Missionaries of Jesus launches a probe against nuns who were agitating demanding the arrest of Bishop Mulakkal. The survivor is also among the six nuns under inquiry.

September 17, 2018: Bishop Mulakkal writes to Pope. He sought Pope’s permission to stay away from duties temporarily as he needs to focus on the case.

September 19, 2018: The investigation team interrogates Franco Mulakkal for seven hours at the Thrippunithura. After three days, police arrest Mulakkal and remanded him in judicial custody.

April 9, 2019: Vaikom DSP K Subhash, the investigating officer submitted the chargesheet in the case before a magistrate court at Pala.

August 7, 2020: Bishop Mulakkal gets bail for second time. He was not arrested after his bail was canceled.

September 2020: Trial begins in Additional Sessions Court, Kottayam.

January 14, 2022: Court likely to pronounce verdict in the nun rape case.