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India

Indian Catholic bishop arrested after nun rape accusations

The nun told police in June that the bishop raped her from 2014 to 2016 and accused the church of trying to cover it up

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 September, 2018, 4:50am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 September, 2018, 10:09pm

Indian police on Friday arrested a Catholic bishop accused by a nun of repeatedly raping her over a period of two years.

The arrest of Franco Mulakkal came after police questioned him for three days in southern Indian city of Kochi. He is the bishop of the northern Indian city of Jalandhar.

The nun with the Missionaries of Jesus order filed a police complaint in June accusing the bishop of raping her from 2014 to 2016.

In her police complaint, the nun alleged that Mulakkal raped her at a guest house in May 2014 and later sexually exploited her on several occasions. She said she had to approach police because church authorities did not act on her complaints.

Earlier this month, she had written to the Vatican’s representative in New Delhi, alleging that the bishop was using “political and money power” to “bury” the case.

On Thursday, the Vatican relieved Mulakkal “temporarily” of all pastoral responsibilities as the bishop of the Jalandhar diocese, the Press Trust reported.

He denied the accusations, saying the nun was angry because he had ordered her disciplined.

Police officer Hari Sankar told the Press Trust of India news agency that Mulakkal will appear in court.

India launches first sex offenders register amid wave of assaults

Dozens of nuns, activists, students and advocates have been protesting outside a court in Kochi for two weeks demanding his prosecution.

Sankar told reporters on Friday that the police would now investigate charges of rape, illegal confinement, unnatural sex and intimidation. A judge would decide whether Mulakkal would be formally charged.

India has been shaken by a series of sexual assaults since 2012, when a young woman was fatally gang-raped on a moving New Delhi bus.

While the government has passed a series of laws increasing punishment for rape of an adult to 20 years in prison, it is rare for more than a few weeks to pass without another brutal sexual assault being reported.