An additional sessions court in Kottayam, Kerala, has acquitted Franco Mulakkal, a catholic Bishop, who was accused of raping a nun for over 2 years. At the end of a trial that lasted 100 days, the court announced a single-line verdict in the 57-year old Mulakkal’s favour. The case had sparked widespread outrage and protests in the state by nuns, including one outside the Kerala High Court after which police began their investigation.
The nun from the Missionaries of Jesus congregation under Jalandhar diocese had filed her complaint on June 29, 2018. Her accusation was that Bishop Franco had raped her repeatedly between 2014 and 2016 as head of the order. He was arrested in September 2018 by a Special Investigation Team of the Kerala Police.
A 2000-page chargesheet was filed in April 2019 and the trial began in November that year. He was charged under sections 342 (wrongful confinement), 376 (2k) (rape on a woman incapable of giving consent), 376 (2n) (causing grievous bodily harm during rape), 376 (c) (a) and 377 (unnatural offence), and 506 (1) (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Kottayam police chief disagreed with the decision and told news channel NDTV that “There was strong evidence in this case. No witness turned hostile”.