02/24/2020, 14.54
INDIA
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A second nun accuses Mgr Mulakkal of sexual misconduct

The nun, 36, is a member of Missionaries of Jesus, the same congregation to which the first accuser belongs. The bishop of Jalandhar, who is on extended leave from his post, is accused to forcing the nun to undress and watch erotic material during video-chats. She did not however file a complaint. For Card Gracias, “justice [must] be done for both the victim and the accused.”

New Delhi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A second nun of the Missionaries of Jesus in Kerala has accused Bishop Mgr Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar of sexual misconduct.

The prelate, who asked to be relieved of his episcopal duties pending the case, was indicted following rape allegations made by another member of the same order.

The new allegation came to light last Friday, the day before the bishop was supposed to appear in court for his trial.

For the prelate’s defenders, the timing of the new allegation is “part of a conspiracy”. However, one of the nuns who backs the first victim said "we are happy another nun has come out to talk about her plight.”

The second victim, 36, is a witness in the trial against the bishop. Her testimony is part of the evidence collected by Kottayam police, which set up a special investigative team dedicated to the case in 2018

In her statement, the nun said that the bishop forced her to show her private parts and that he, in turn, undressed during video calls in which he forced her to take part.

The incidents in question date back to 2015, when the bishop, she says, summoned her to discuss "important issues".

She adds that other Sisters endured "similar suffering" but are too afraid to speak out against the "powerful bishop".

“I felt revulsion’” she said. This “was hurting my self-esteem. He kept talking about obscene things. Later he started video-chats describing his body and mine too. I wasn't interested in sexting, but I didn't have the courage to stand up to him because he headed our congregation.”

The nun’s statement was made in 2019 to the special investigative team. However, the latter did not open a case against the bishop because the victim refused to press charges.

Instead, the statement was leaked to the media by the Save Our Sister Forum group, which calls for reform in the Indian Church.

Meanwhile, Mgr Mulakkal did not appear at the court hearing on Saturday. He asked that the charges of multiple rape involving the superior of the Missionaries of Jesus between 2014 and 2016 be dismissed.

The case, which is one of the issues dividing India’s Catholic Church, was discussed by he bishops in their plenary assembly last week.

For Card Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Mumbai and president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI), the goal is for “the truth to emerge and justice be done for both the victim and the accused. The Church remains neutral on the issue. She hates sin but loves the sinner.”

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