Nun sexual assault: Police to visit Jalandhar to quiz priest

Jul 31, 2018, 12:31 IST | PTI

State police Chief Loknath Behera will meet the investigation team ahead of their visit to interrogate Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar diocese in connection with the rape case

Nun sexual assault: Police to visit Jalandhar to quiz priest

Police probing the alleged rape of a nun by a Jalandhar-based Bishop of the Roman Catholic Church would leave for that city this week to interrogate the top priest. A team headed by Vaikom Deputy Superintendent of Police K Subhash would leave for Jalandhar on Friday, police said. State police Chief Loknath Behera would meet the investigation team ahead of their visit to interrogate Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar diocese in connection with the rape case. During their visit, the police will also try to gather more evidences from those connected with the case.

The decision to interrogate Mulakkal came as the team completed a detailed probe in Kerala regarding the allegations levelled against him. Police had earlier said that it will take action in the case "after they are fully convinced". Meanwhile, Kuravilangadu police have registered a case against a Catholic priest for allegedly trying to influence a key witness in the rape case. The police registered the case yesterday against Fr James Erthayil of the Congregation of Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (CMI), an indigenous religious congregation in the Catholic Church of India, after an audio clipping of his conversation with a colleague nun of victim's congregation surfaced.

In the leaked audio, Erthayil, who had been serving in an ashram in Kurianad in the district, was heard trying to influence the nun belonging to Missionaries of Jesus by offering 10 acres of land and a separate convent, if the complaint against Mulakkal was withdrawn. Meanwhile, the CMI congregation transferred the priest to another ashram in Idukki district. In her complaint to the Kottayam district police chief, the nun had accused Mulakkal of raping her and having unnatural sex multiple times at a small town near Kottayam between 2014 and 2016.

However, Mulakkal has claimed that he was innocent and said the truth would come out in the investigation. Clergymen supporting Mulakkal had said that the nun had filed the complaint against him after a priest, also an official of the Jalandhar diocese, filed one against her relatives for allegedly threatening the bishop. In his complaint, the priest has alleged that the nun's relatives threatened to kill Mulakkal after he ordered a probe against her on the basis of the complaint received by the Mother Superior of her congregation. The nun had also complained to the National Commission for Women that the Kerala Police was "not working" in the case as the accused is a "highly-linked" person. NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma had said the commission would extend all possible help to the nun in the case.

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