The Missionaries of Jesus on Friday said it had conducted an internal investigation into the rape case against Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal and had found him to be innocent. The congregation released its own preliminary inquiry report claiming the allegations against the bishop are baseless.
A Kerala nun, from the same congregation, had filed a police complaint in June, accusing Mulakkal of raping her 13 times between 2014 and 2016 in a town in Kerala. She said she had no choice but to go to the police after church authorities ignored her complaints and took no action against the bishop. The Missionaries of Jesus is based in Punjab’s Jalandhar but it runs two convents in Kerala – one at Kuruvilangadu in Kottayam and the other in Kannur. The alleged abuse took place in Kottayam.
Several nuns and activists have been on an indefinite protest since last week alleging that the police and church officials have denied them justice and there has not been much action though the complaint was filed more than 70 days ago.
The church body raised doubts over the complainant’s claims against the bishop, asking why she had accompanied Mulakkal to other functions if he had sexually assaulted her. “In the month of May in 2015, the sister had invited the Bishop for a function and even after that, it has been found that the sister has taken part in a lot of functions with the Bishop,” the church said in a three-page report, according to The News Minute. “Any woman, who was raped by a man, would never attend functions or travel with that man. This is a truth that cannot be denied.”
The Missionaries of Jesus on Friday even released a picture of the complainant along with the statement to the media. It said that the congregation would not be responsible if the picture becomes public.
Later, the police filed a complaint against the church body for releasing the picture, reported PTI. The case was registered on a complaint from the nun’s brother, who approached Deputy Superintendent of Police K Subhash heading the special investigation team, said an official.
The congregation claimed that the complainant and protesting nuns, who had been transferred to different convents in 2017, defied the order and instead went to Kuruvilangadu to conspire against Mulakkal. “The inquiry conducted by us has found that they came to Kuruvilangadu convent, disobeying the congregation rules, and conspired with four other people,” it said. “Even after giving them several letters of warning, they were not ready to go back to their designated convents.”
The church also claimed that the nuns have been influenced by “rationalists” to make such accusations against the bishop, India Today reported. The complainant, along with five nuns and four others, has conspired against the bishop, it said.
“Victim’s friend was handling visitors’ register, they must have tampered with it,” ANI reported, quoting from the statement. The report further alleged that the nuns had manipulated the position of the CCTV cameras inside the convent to mask the identity of people helping them in the conspiracy.
Earlier this week, the congregation defended Mulakkal and criticised the protesting nuns instead. It has also attempted to shame the complainant by accusing her of having a “relationship beyond acceptable standards with a local taxi driver”.