The Kerala State government and the survivor in the nun rape case filed an appeal against the decision of the Additional District and Sessions court acquitting Bishop Franco Mulakkal of the Catholic Church.
Former Bishop of Jalandhar, Franco Mulakkal was accused of raping a nun from the missionaries of Jesus convent in Kuravilangad. According to the survivor nun, the bishop raped her multiple times between 2014 and 2016.
The prosecution in its appeal contended that the sessions judge acquitted the bishop, without taking in account the evidences against him. According to the prosecution, the court without appreciating the evidence in the correct perspective, “misconstructed facts and le and gage unwarranted acquittal to the accused” and set him free. The prosecution added that the reluctance of the survivor nun were overlooked by the Sessions court judge while acquitting the accused.
“The initial reluctance of the victim of rape, more so when she is a nun staying in a cloistered atmosphere for years together to give the minutest details regarding the traumatic incidents in her previous statements were brushed aside by the learned judge to acquit the accused.”
The nun was raped repeatedly 13 times from 5/5/2014 to 23/09/2016 at a guest room where Mulakkal used to stay. She confessed being raped by the bishop after she couldn’t take the torture of being raped by her superior.
“Even though the victim tried to appraise the authorities within the church regarding the sexual harassment meted out to her at the hands of the accused, no one responded to her complaint. Therefore, without further waiting for a solution from them, she filed a complaint before the District Police.”
The plea filed by through advocate S Sreekumar sought directions to keep aside the decision of the session’s court.
The state government in its appeal stated that the evidence given by the survivor was corroborated by the deposition of several witnesses. This, together with the documentary evidence, proved that the nun was subjected to unnatural offence and rape by Franco.
“The court should have considered that when a nun is subjected to rape, the social stigma that she might face will be higher than an ordinary person. It should have considered that she observed self-restraint and spoke out about the incident only after she decided to fight a legal battle after considering the repercussions she would face for her entire life. Hence she cannot be characterised as an unreliable witness or inconsistent.”
In January, this year, the Additional District and Sessions Court in Kottayam had acquitted Bishop Mulakkal in the case after it found the survivor’s testimony unreliable. The survivor and her supporters encountered threats and attacks from the defenders of Mulakkal.