Bishop case: Father James Erthayil surrenders

He was later let off in bail.

Kottayam: Father James Erthayil surrendered at the Pala First Class Judicial Magistrate court today in the case of rape charge levelled by a nun against a Jalandhar bishop. He was later let off in bail.

Erthayil was booked under the charge of trying to influence the complainant nun in bishop’s favor.

Fr. James Erthayil had made a phone call to Sister Anupama, an associate of the nun who filed sexual abuse complaint against Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal, the other day asking to withdraw the complaint against the Bishop. He also offered 10 acres of land and a new convent to withdraw the complaint.

The details of his phone call with Sister Anupama spaning for 11 minutes had leaked earlier.

At the same time, Kerala DGP Loknath Behera today reviewed the progress of the probe into the rape charge and said a special team would visit the city in Punjab and other places as part of the investigation.

The Director General of Police said he had given permission to the team headed by Vaikom Deputy Superintendent of Police K Subhash to leave for Jalandhar, New Delhi and other places for further investigation.

However, the team would interrogate Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who has been accused of sexual assault by the nun, only after gathering more evidences from those connected with the case in these cities, he said.

"The team will be able to move ahead only after correctly verifying the things. We haven't done it so far. Today, I have given permission to the team to go outside the state to probe the case. It will go not only to Jalandhar, but many other places also," the DGP told reporters here.

Ernakulam Range IG Vijay Sakhare, Kottayam district Superintendent of Police Hari Sankar and DySP Subhash besides other members of the special team attended the review meeting.

In her complaint to the Kottayam district police chief, the nun had accused Mulakkal of raping her and having unnatural sex multiple times at a small town near Kottayam between 2014 and 2016.

However, Mulakkal has claimed he was innocent and said the truth would come out in the investigation.

Clergymen supporting Mulakkal had claimed the nun made the charge against him after a priest, also an official of the Jalandhar diocese, filed a complaint against her relatives for allegedly threatening the bishop.

In his complaint, the priest has alleged that the nun's relatives threatened to kill Mulakkal after he ordered a probe against her on the basis of the complaint received by the Mother Superior of her congregation.

The team is carrying out simultaneous probe into this complaint also.

The nun had also complained to the National Commission for Women (NCW) that the Kerala Police was "not working" in the case as the accused is a "highly-linked" person.

NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma had said the commission would extend all possible help to the nun in the case.

(With PTI inputs)

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