Rose petals and garlands greeted bishop Franco Mulakkal when he reached Jalandhar from Kerala on Wednesday after getting conditional bail in a rape case. Mulakkal is accused of repeatedly raping and sexually assaulting a nun between 2014 and 2016 during his visits to a convent in Kottayam.
Franco Mulakkal, who was escorted by personnel of the Punjab Police, was seen smiling as his followers threw rose petals, reported news agency PTI. Mulakkal, till a few weeks ago, was the bishop of the Jalandhar diocese. He divested of his pastoral responsibilities as the bishop of the Jalandhar diocese of the Missionaries of Jesus by the Vatican.
“The prayers of the people of Punjab supported me. I believe that they will pray for me even in the days to come. I thank everyone. An investigation is underway and I am co-operating. I’m a law-abiding citizen and I trust the legal system of the country,” he told reporters.
The Kerala High Court granted bail to the 54-year-old Catholic priest on Monday on conditions that he does not come to Kerala except for appearing before the probe officer once in two weeks on Saturdays, and should surrender his passport before the court. This condition would be applicable till a charge sheet is filed in the case. He was released from jail on Tuesday.
In her complaint to the Kottayam Police in June, the nun had alleged that Bishop Mulakkal raped her at a guest house in Kuravilangad in May 2014 and later sexually exploited her on several occasions.
The nun said she had to approach the police as the church authorities did not act on her repeated complaints against the clergyman. However, the bishop has denied the charges as “baseless and concocted,” insisting she levelled those as the Catholic order had rejected her demand for favours.