Second Kerala nun accuses Bishop Franco of harassment, non-consensual sexting

The nun had narrated her version to the police in September 2018.
Second Kerala nun accuses Bishop Franco of harassment, non-consensual sexting
Second Kerala nun accuses Bishop Franco of harassment, non-consensual sexting

The trial in the rape case against the accused bishop, Franco Mulakkal, is yet to commence, but the statement of another nun against the Jalandhar Bishop has come to the fore.  The 35-year-old nun belongs to Missionaries of Jesus, the same religious institute as the first nun who has accused Bishop Franco of raping her multiple times between 2014 and 2016.

According to the nun’s statement to the Kuravilangad police in September 2018, which has been released now by the ‘Save our Sisters’ (SOS) forum, the bishop sent her lewd messages on her phone. She also alleged that he behaved inappropriately to her. “I used to call him regarding issues related to the convent, and it turned into a friendship. Between 2015 and 2017, we used to send messages on WhatsApp, call each other and do video calls. I was only looking for friendship. But by the end of 2015, his remarks became sexual in nature,” she stated.

“I felt hatred and aversion to it and felt it hurt my self-esteem. But he continued to talk obscene things. Later, he would talk about things that were sexual in nature and did video chats describing his body and mine, too,” the Kannur native added.

The nun then said that she was not interested in sexting, but did not have the courage to oppose Franco as he was the head of their congregation. She then says that she was embroiled in a controversy over a friendship with another man and was sent to Kerala as punishment.

“Between April and May 2017, I lived in a convent in Kerala. Franco came to the convent to conduct a probe about my conduct. His driver and Father Antony were with the bishop but they lived in separate rooms. Franco called me to his room and asked me for an explanation. While I was leaving, he hugged me and kissed me on my forehead,” she wrote.

In her statement, she said that after that incident, she called the Bishop a few times, but he never spoke to her. However, a case was not registered based on this statement. The nun is, however, the 14th witness in the rape case and her revelations were part of her statement in the case. The statement is also part of the chargesheet against Franco in the case.

"After the nun gave this statement, the convent tried to silence her by not allowing her to leave the convent or talk to anyone outside. It was only recently that we got to know about the treatment meted out to her by the convent authorities. That is why we decided to release the statement she gave the police in 2018. This is a statement that she has signed," Riju Kanjoorkaran, a convener of SOS, told TNM.

He also said that the police should have registered another FIR when they learnt that another nun was sexually harassed by Franco.

The first nun of Missionaries of Jesus had accused Franco of raping her multiple times at the Kuruvilangadu convent in Kottayam. After filing a police complaint, the first information report (FIR) was registered in June 2018. However, it was only after weeks of protests by other nuns of the congregation that Franco was arrested, on September 21, 2018 - the same month as when the second nun gave her statement to the police.

The chargesheet in the case was submitted in April 2019, in which, he was charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code: 342 (wrongful confinement), 376 (2k) (rape on a woman incapable of giving consent), 376 (2n) (causing grievous bodily harm during rape), 376 (c) (a) 377 (unnatural offence), 506 (1) (criminal intimidation). 

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