21-Jul-2018

Kochi Church Denies Cover-Up In Sexual Assault Case Against Bishop

KOCHI July 3: Accused of cover-up over allegations of rape against a Roman Catholic bishop by a nun, the Syro-Malabar Church today said its head Cardinal George Alencherry had not received any sexual assault complaint from her.
 
In a statement in Kochi today evening, the church said it came to know from media reports about allegations that George Alecherry did not act on the sexual assault complaint of the nun against bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar diocese of Roman Catholic Church.
 
The church said it could not find any such complaint from the records kept in the office of the Cardinal, who is also the Major Archbishop of the Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese. 
 
The statement said it could not even identify the victim from the media reports. 
 
Whoever it was, no complaint had been received from any person alleging sexual assault against the Jalandhar bishop, the Church said.
 
It also clarified the Syro-Malabar Church did not enjoy any authority over the Jalandhar diocese or its bishop who serves in the Latin hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. 
 
The statement of the Church came a day after the nun, serving in Kerala under the Jalandhar diocese, claimed she had earlier complained to the Cardinal about the incident.
 
Besides, a section of the church followers also filed a petition against George Alencherry for reportedly covering up the incident.
 
In the petition to Ernakulam Range IGP Vijay Sakhare, the church followers alleged that the nun had complained to the Cardinal about the ordeal she underwent at the hands of Bishop Mulakkal, but he did not act on it. 
 
In her complaint to the Kottayam District Police Chief, the nun has charged Bishop Mulakkal with rape and unnatural sex multiple times at a small town near Kottayam between 2014 and 2016.
 
The nun has alleged she was abused first in 2014 at a guest house near an orphanage in Kuravilangad in Kottayam district.
 
Supporters of the bishop have rejected the charges against him and claimed the nun filed the complaint after a priest, also an official of the Jalandhar diocese, lodged a police complaint against her relatives for allegedly threatening the bishop.
 
Based on the complaints of the nun and the priest, police have launched an investigation.  A Deputy Superintendent of Police-ranking official is probing the case.