A special court in Kottayam, Kerala acquitted Bishop Franco Mulakkal of charges of rape leveled against him by a nun from the Missionaries of Jesus convent in Kuravilangad.
The survivor had alleged that 58-year-old priest, who was a bishop in Jalandhar at the time, raped her around 13 times during his visits to the convent between 2014 and 2016.
The verdict was given by Additional District and Sessions Court judge G. Gopakumar amid tight security. The conclusion of the trial comes more than three years after the nun filed her FIR against the Catholic priest in 2018.
Timeline of the events:
February 2018 - The survivor, a nun with the Missionaries of Jesus Convent in Kuravilangad, wrote to the Bishop of Pala accusing Mulakkal of raping her and trying to intimidate her, her colleagues and family members.
June 27, 2018 - The nun filed a complaint before the Kottayam District Police Chief when no action was taken despite repeated representations to several authorities of the church.
June 28, 2018 - An FIR was filed against Mulakkal charging him with the relevant provisions of rape under the Indian Pena Code along with sections 342 (punishment for wrongful confinement), section 377 (unnatural offences) and section 506 (criminal intimidation).
July 5, 2018 - The nun records her statement in-camera.
August 8, 2018 - SIT from Kerala reaches Jalandhar to interrogate Mulakkal. The statements of the other nuns working at the mission's office was also recorded.
September 11, 2018 - The nun wrote to the Vatican ambassador to India seeking intervention in this case.
September 12, 2018 - The Missionaries of Jesus said it would probe against the nuns who are protesting against Mulakkal. Six nuns including the rape survivor to be probed.
September 20, 2018 - Pope Francis relieves Franco Mulakkal of his pastoral duties.
September 21, 2018 - Police arrest Mulakkal from the Tripunithura Crime Branch Police Station after interrogating him for a period of three days.
September 24, 2018 - Mulakkal files a bail application, which was later rejected.
October 15, 2018 - Mulakkal was granted bail by the Kerala High Court. The Bishop was forbidden from entering Kerala by the High Court.
April 9, 2019 - Police file a more than 2000 page chargesheet.
January 20, 2020 - Mulakkal files a plea seeking to dismiss the charges filed against him. He alleged that the nun "falsely implicated" him because he initiated action against her cousin sister.
March 16, 2020 - Additional Sessions Court in Kerala dismisses Mulakkal's plea seeking to discharge him from the case.
July 7, 2020 - Kerala High Court upholds the decision of the lower court rejecting Mulakkal's discharge petition.
July 13, 2020 - Additional District and Sessions Court cancels Mulakkal's bail and issues an arrest warrant because he failed to appear before court.
July 25, 2020 - Mulakkal moved Supreme Court seeking to dismiss the charges against him. The top court dismissed his plea a month later.
August 7, 2020 - Kottayam Additional District and Sessions Court granted Mulakkal bail for the second time.
September 16, 2020 - Trial begins at Additional District And Sessions Court in Kottayam.
January 10, 2022 - Trial concludes.
January 14, 2022 - Additional District and Sessions Court acquits Mulakkal.