Bishop Franco Mulakkal has been acquitted of rape charges by the Additional Sessions Court in Kottayam, Kerala. The Bishop was present in Court during the pronouncement of the verdict. The Bishop has been acquitted of all charges by the Court. The detailed judgment is still awaited.
A nun had charged the Bishop of raping her on 13 different occasions. The Supreme Court had dismissed Bishop Franco's plea for discharge earlier.
Prior to pronouncement of the verdict, the Court premises were searched by a bomb squad and dog squad of Kerala police. During the pronouncement, around a hundred policemen were present to ensure the security of the Court premises.
The Court had concluded the hearing and reserved its verdict in the case on Monday. The trial in the case had started in November 2019 and lasted for 105 days.
The rape case against the Bishop was registered by police in Kottayam district in 2018.
In her complaint to the police in June 2018, the nun had alleged that she was subjected to sexual abuse by Franco, then Bishop of the Jalandhar diocese of Roman Catholic Church, between 2014 and 2016.
The Special Investigation Team which probed the case arrested the Bishop and charged him with wrongful confinement, rape, unnatural sex and criminal intimidation.
The Court had restrained the print and electronic media from publishing any matter relating to the trial in the case without its permission. The Chargesheet filed by the Police is around a thousand pages with 83 witnesses, including 11 priests and 24 nuns. The Prosecution examined 39 of the said witnesses.