The investigating officer details how he went about the probe, and also lists out all the people that he has questioned – including nuns who have left Missionaries of Jesus.

PTI
news Sexual Assault Wednesday, September 12, 2018 - 12:40

It has been almost a month since the investigators in the Kerala nun rape case have filed an affidavit in the Kerala High Court, that clearly says that the investigation has found evidence against Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal. While sources had revealed details of the affidavit in August, a copy of the affidavit that has been accessed on Wednesday reveals that the officials have questioned several people to arrive at the conclusion. In fact, a lookout notice was also issued for Franco Mulakkal to stop him from leaving the country. But despite all this, why hasn’t the bishop been arrested so far?

The affidavit submitted by the DySP K Subhash, who is probing the case, before the Kerala High Court on August 13, 2018 states, "During the course of the investigation so far conducted and the available evidences collected so far, it is revealed that the accused Bishop Franco committed unnatural offence and committed rape repeatedly on different dates from 05/05/2014 to 23/09/2016 on the complainant against the will and consent of her abusing his dominance over her as Bishop of Jalandhar after confining her in the guest room number 20 of St Francis Bishop Home Kuruvilangadu."

The investigating officer in the affidavit details how he went about the probe, and also lists out all the people that he has questioned. This includes the survivor nun, the Bishop of Pala and priest of Kuruvilangadu church, one nun who had left Missionaries of Jesus and the mothers of four nuns who had left the congregation. Cardinal Mar George Alencherry was also questioned. Two other nuns who were serving in Missionaries of Jesus along with the survivor and have now left the congregation were also questioned. Investigations were also conducted and several witnesses were questioned in Delhi and Ujjain.

The affidavit details that the visitor’s register at the mission home where the crimes are alleged to have occured correlate with the dates provided by the complainant. "The Chronicle (visitor’s register) of the mission home in which details of visits of bishop is entered. On verification it is found that Bishop Franco visited and stayed in the St Francis home Kuravilangad on all the alleged days from 05/05/2014 to 23/09/2016 and hence the same was seized as per Mahasser on 30/06/2018. Room No.20 which is being used as the guest room of the convent where accused stayed on all occasions and hence room number 20 was subjected to scientific examination with the help of scientific assistance Kottayam."

On the statement of the survivor nun, the affidavit says, "On examination of the certified copy of the 164 CrPC statement, it is found that the complainant was subjected to unnatural affairs and raped by the Bishop forcefully against her will and without her consent on several times."

"Lookout circular application was submitted to district police chief, Kottayam and same had been transmitted to the authority concerned on 10/07/2018 to prevent the movement of Bishop from India. The doctor was examined and recorded her statement on 19/07/2018 in which he stated that there is evidence to sexual assault. The sisters of other convents of Missionaries of Jesus in Kerala that are located in Kannur district were questioned and recorded their statements. The chronicles of both convents were seized as per Mahazar on 12/07/2018," says the document.

Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal has been accused of raping a 44-year-old nun multiple times between 2014 and 2016. Five Catholic nuns have been sitting in protest near the Kerala High Court demanding that Bishop Franco be arrested, alleging police inaction despite a complaint of rape lodged against him 78 days ago. The Missionaries of Jesus Congregation had previously defended the accused bishop and implied that the nun's statements were not entirely true.

On September 8, the nun wrote a seven-page letter to the Nuncio – the Vatican ambassador – explaining how despite having reached out to several church officials, none had reached out to help her. 

However, the Church, has been trying to brush aside the allegations through various means, saying that though the bishop had come to the St Francis home in Kuravilangad on May 5, he did not stay the night. According the press release by the Missionaries of Jesus, the accused bishop went to a “far away” home in the night. The Mother Superior in the home in which he stayed overnight confirmed this to the police, the congregation said.

Missionaries of Jesus also accused the survivor nun of making up the records of Bishop Franco’s visit in St Francis’ visitors register as she was the Mother Superior there. They further tried to refute the nun’s allegations saying that there were photos of her smiling the next day on May 6 at her sister’s daughter’s first mass.

The Missionaries of Jesus had also released a statement to the media on September 11, in which the congregation blatantly attacked the nun's character. They alleged that she had previously been involved with two other men and that her accusations against the bishop had been unwarranted in nature.

The Congregation of the Mother of Carmel (CMC), has issued a  circular signed by Sr Suby, the Superior General of the congregation, asking the nuns not to participate in the protest against the bishop.