Saturday, September 22, 2018

Indian Catholic Bishop Franco Mulakkal was arrested by Kerala police on 21st Sept. 2018 on rape and other charges; Note that charges against Bishop Mulakkal have still to be proven in court of law

Given below are some of my Facebook posts on this matter in reverse chronological order.

From my Facebook post, https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2294628180753746, dated 22nd Sept. 2018 :

What the police said in court today about rape allegations against Bishop Mulakkal

This post is based on the following news reports:
1) Former Bishop Franco Mullakal remanded in police custody for two days, https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/former-bishop-franco-mullakal-remanded-in-police-custody-for-two-days/story-AMh1nWVon41OP9OlVw30NJ.html, 22nd Sept. 2018.

2) Kerala nun rape case: Bishop Franco Mulakkal in police custody till Sept 24, bail plea dismissed, https://indianexpress.com/article/india/kerala-nun-rape-case-bishop-franco-mulakkal-court-5369493/, 22nd Sept. 2018

3) Bishop Arrested For Allegedly Raping Kerala Nun Stood Smiling In Court, https://www.ndtv.com/kerala-news/bishop-franco-mulakkal-arrested-for-allegedly-raping-kerala-nun-stood-in-pala-court-smiling-1920528, 22nd Sept. 2018

Mulakkal has been charged under Indian Penal Code sections as follows:
* 342 (wrongful confinement)
* 376 (rape)
* 377 (unnatural offence)
* 560 (1) (criminal intimidation)

The police told the court that Mulakkal had confined the (complainant) nun to a room in the convent guest house on 5th May 2014 and raped the nun the next day.

The police said that the nun was subjected to rape and unnatural sex 13 times in the same room between 2014 and 2016.

There are some shocking witness statements in the police report. In a particular period in a month the nuns had to meet Bishop Mulakkal between 9 and 10 PM and share their personal problems with him. That's when he misbehaved with them!

The report also says that Mulakkal (based in North Indian state of Punjab) had multiple places where he could stay in Kerala (South Indian state) but that he "chose to stay at the Kuruvilangad convent, which is located in an isolated location, with minimal facilities and only three young nuns."

Mulakkal is reported to hold a doctorate in moral theology!

The leader of the five nuns who had publicly protested for two weeks for police arrest of the Bishop, Sister Anupama said, "Church was not with us but the Lord never let us down. Our struggle was not against any person but against corrupt practices. We are really grateful people of Kerala stood with us".

She said that the arrest of Bishop Franco Mulakkal will send a strong signal (of police action against them) to those who exploit nuns and use their money and political power to attempt to get away with it.

She also said that if the church authorities take action against them (nuns who publicly protested including her) they will hit the streets again.

Ravi: Hats off to these courageous nuns who, after seeing that the church authorities are not taking action on their complaints, decided to go to the police, and then launch a public protest to gather public support to ensure that proper police action is taken against the Bishop.
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From my FB post, https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2294321690784395, dated 22nd Sept. 2018

Bishop Franco Mulakkal arrest by Kerala police seems to have followed due diligence process; However, rape charge against Bishop Mulakkal has still to be proven in court of law

I think the Kerala police deserve praise for the due diligence process they followed before arresting Bishop Franco Mulakkal on rape and other charges.

Some points from 'Police arrest bishop Franco Mulakkal on rape charge', https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/bishop-franco-mulakkal-arrest/article25009225.ece, 21st Sept. 2018 :

The Superintendent of Police (SP) of Kottayam, Kerala said that Bishop Mulakkal was arrested after police established that the charges against him were "reasonably true".

Bishop Mulakkal has been charged under four counts which include:
 * rape
 * illegal confinement
 * criminal intimidation

The article states, "The contention of the accused [Bishop Franco Mulakkal] that the allegation against him was the outcome of a conspiracy had collapsed in the face of the evidence collected by the police and the information gathered after questioning.

He was given reasonable time to have his say and arrested after the contradictions in the evidence given by the nun, the bishop and others were ironed out, the SP said."

The article states that the five nuns who had launched an unprecedented (never before in Catholic church history in India, or at least in modern India (after 1947)) public protest which created a huge public outcry, have called off the protest now that the Bishop has been arrested.

Bishop Mulakkal has been admitted to a hospital (after his arrest) due to high blood pressure.

Bishop Mulakkal had been temporarily relieved of his duties as Bishop.

Now the battle shifts to the court of law. I wonder how long it will take for the court case to get decided. Indian courts of law are heavily overburdened due to which cases can take years, if not decades, to get resolved. And then there are appeals that can be made. But perhaps as this is a sexual assault case, it may get some priority and be speeded up.

The state of the matter now is that Bishop Mulakkal's conspiracy story has ****NOT**** been bought by Kerala police, and so he has got arrested. But Bishop Mulakkal is still not convicted of the crime. So it cannot be stated that he has committed the crime as that can be stated only by a court of law and ****not**** by the police alone. However, the image of Bishop Franco Mulakkal as well as the Catholic church he is associated with, has been severely dented with this arrest.

Some extracts from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franco_Mulakkal :

Franco Mulakkal is an Indian former prelate of the Latin Catholic Church. He is the first bishop in Indian Catholic history to be arrested for a rape case.
...
He was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Delhi on 17 January 2009. He was appointed Titular Bishop of Chullu on 17 January 2009 and Ordained a Bishop on 21 February 2009. He was appointed Bishop of Jalandhar on 13 June 2013 by Pope Francis. He also serves as the Secretary of Regional Bishops Conference of North, India and Consultor for Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, Rome.

Bishop Franco Mulakkal wrote a letter to Holy Father Pope Francis expressing his desire to step aside temporarily and requested to be relieved from the administration of the Diocese on September 15 2018.
--- end wiki extracts ---

Ravi: Let the truth be revealed. In the long run, I think revelation of truth about the matter will heal the  Catholic church in India. If Bishop Mulakkal has indulged in these criminal offences under the Indian Penal Code, the right path for him is to confess his sins, repent for them and seek forgiveness from the nun that he hurt and harmed. Of course, he will have to undergo the jail sentence he would get then. But if he has not committed these criminal acts (note that any consensual sex he may have indulged in with an adult nun, is not a criminal act under Indian law, as per my understanding), then I pray to Almighty God to help Bishop Mulakkal establish his innocence in Indian court of law.

Note that even if he has only indulged in consensual sex with ladies, he will have broken his vow of celibacy as a Catholic priest. In which case I think the right path for him is that he himself should give up the Catholic priesthood and become a lay person. I am of the very firm view, based partly on my significant amount of reading on spirituality and religion, that non-hypocritical indulgence in sex does not come in the way of spiritual progress of any person. It is sexual hypocrisy that is the big stumbling block in the spiritual path.

[I thank thehindu.com and wikipedia and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above short extracts from their websites on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever. Note that this post deals with a matter of serious concern to Indian society.]
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From my FB post, https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2293886764161221, dated 21st Sept. 2018 :

First Indian Catholic Bishop (Bishop Franco Mulakkal) arrested on rape charge!

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/bishop-franco-mulakkal-arrested-in-kerala-nun-rape-case-1345584-2018-09-21

Key points about his arrest:

Police found inconsistencies in his defensive statements.

Mulakkal claimed that he did not stay the night in Kuravilangad convent on May 5th 2014, the day the nun said she was raped/forced to have unnatural sex, by him (at night) for the first time. He said that he had stayed the night in another convernt

But another nun and driver confirmed that Bishop Mulakkal has stayed in Kuravilangad convent during the night on May 5th 2014.

Also a nun of the other convent where he said he had spent the night, denied that he spent that night in that convent.

Further the location data of Bishop Mulakkal's mobile phone confirmed that he had spent the night in Kuravilangad convent on May 5th 2014.

That seems to have been clinching evidence that Bishop Mulakkal was not saying the truth to the police. Perhaps that was the main reason for his arrest.
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From my FB post, https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2289240284625869, dated 15th Sept. 2018

Bishop Mulakkal letter to his church today mentioning that his juniors will handle the church in his absence

While major Indian news channels are reporting this letter as Bishop Mulakkal stepping down from his post, I am not sure that is the case.

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/bishop-franco-mulakkal-accused-of-raping-a-kerala-nun-steps-down-1916881 reports that Bishop Mulakkal wrote in his letter:

"I would like to thank all of you for your continued support and prayers for me at this time continued problems affecting my Episcopal ministry. As you have probably come to know from the media the investigation into the allegations raised against me there are several contradictions in the evidences collected against me as per the report of the police. It is reported I am likely to be called for further clarifications by the investigating officer in Kerala."

"I leave everything into the hand of God as I await the result of the findings of the team probing the allegation. In my absence Msgr. Mathew Kokkandam will administer the Diocese as is the normal practice when I am away from the Diocese".

Note that Bishop Mulakkal has been ordered to appear before Kerala Police for (further) investigation of the matter on Sept. 19th. Mulakkal has said that he will fully co-operate with Indian police.

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From my FB post, https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2289229284626969, dated 15th Sept. 2018

Bishop Mulakkal in India Today interview says he is innocent and that the nun who made the rape allegations is indulging in cover-up and blackmail as the nun had some complaints against her (of some sexual affair with a congregant's husband) in the congregation she was associated with.

Mulakkal says that only 3 persons know the truth about the rape allegations - the complainant (nun), Mulakkal and God.

Mulakkal says that he wants the truth to come out.

The complainant seems to have been a Mother Superior earlier when she won an election in her spiritual establishment (don't know what it is called). But she lost the next election. Mulakkal suggests (either in this video or some other video I saw) that after her losing power as Mother Superior, there was a power struggle in her spiritual establishment.

Hmm. This is a really messy case. But Mulakkal does speak well in this interview. Either he has been framed OR he is putting on a great dramatic act.

Around 25 mins but with the interview repeated (interview itself would be around 10 minutes or so, I think):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CySBjbPYs_I

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From my FB post, https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2289171484632749, dated 15th Sept. 2018

Good to see that the Kerala High Court was apprised of the matter by the govt. officials and that, "A division bench of the Kerala High Court on Thursday observed that prima facie investigation into the alleged rape of a nun by Catholic bishop Franco Mulakkal was being conducted in a fair and professional manner, and it would be inappropriate to issue any specific direction on the conduct of the probe."

In particular, "The court observed that the usual way of immediate arrest of an accused may not be applicable in this case, as two years had elapsed since the alleged crime. The court also said the arrest was the discretion of the police."

So let the case proceed as per law. The bishop is fully entitled to presumed innocence until it is proved in a court of law that he is guilty of the serious allegations made against him. This is how law works.

My understanding of how these things work is that even if the nun's charges are true, but that truth cannot be established in an Indian court of law, nothing can be done against the bishop. But, of course, if that is the case, then the Bishop, I am sure, will have to pay a severe price as negative Karmic consequences that he will have to eventually suffer.

Kerala High Court on nun rape case: Prima facie, probe has been fair, https://indianexpress.com/article/india/kerala-high-court-on-nun-rape-case-prima-facie-probe-has-been-fair-5355445/, 14th Sept. 2018
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From my FB post, https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2286096364940261, dated 11th Sept. 2018
Article giving view of both sides in the Kerala nun rape allegation case: https://indianexpress.com/article/india/people-against-the-church-are-using-these-sisters-says-jalandhar-bishop-accused-of-rape-5351112/
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From my FB post, https://www.facebook.com/ravi.s.iyer.7/posts/2284301035119794, dated 9th Sept. 2018

"In a first in the history of the Catholic church in India, a group of five nuns wearing their habits staged a sit-in protest in Kochi, demanding the arrest of Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakal against whom a nun raised allegations of sexual abuse."

Ravi: I am not saying that Bishop Mulakal should be declared guilty without a proper trial. Who knows, he may be innocent. So he is entitled to due process of the legal system of India. But I think that the police should release a detailed statement explaining why they have not arrested the Bishop. Perhaps they do not have sufficient evidence. Whatever. But they should release a detailed statement.

Nuns demand arrest of Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakal, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kochi/nuns-demand-arrest-of-jalandhar-bishop-franco-mulakal/articleshow/65731797.cms, 8th Sept. 2018
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[I thank thehindu.com, indiatimes.com, indianexpress.com, ndtv.com, indiatoday.in, hindustantimes.com and wikipedia, and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above short extracts from their websites on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever. Note that this post deals with a matter of serious concern to Indian society.]

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