A Kerala court on Monday dismissed a discharge petition filed by former Jalandhar bishop Franco Mulakkal, who is accused of sexually assaulting a nun, PTI reported. Mulakkal has been out on bail since October 2018.

In a plea that was filed ahead of the preliminary hearing in the case in January last year, the former bishop said there was no prima facie case to frame charges against him. However, the Sessions Court I dismissed his claim and asked Mulakkal to appear for trial. The advocate appearing for Mulakkal then said he will move the High Court against the trial court’s order.

The police had filed a case against Mulakkal in June 2018 after a nun in the Missionaries of Jesus congregation filed a complaint accusing him of raping her 13 times between 2014 and 2016 in Kottayam. The congregation is based in Punjab’s Jalandhar district but it runs two convents in Kerala – in Kottayam and Kannur. The alleged abuse took place in Kottayam.

Mulakkal, who was arrested in September 2018, has repeatedly denied the charges and accused the nun of taking revenge on him for ordering an inquiry into a complaint against her. He was removed as the bishop after the allegations.

Earlier in February, another nun who is a witness in the rape trial against Mulakkal accused him of hugging and forcibly kissing her on the forehead in April 2017. In her statement, which is part of a chargesheet filed by the Kerala Police last year, the nun alleged that the incident took place in Mulakkal’s room at a convent at the end of a two-hour conversation. The police had filed the chargesheet in April 2019.