Another nun has spoken out and alleged that senior members of the Clergy are putting her under duress to not testify against rape accused Franco Mulakkal. Sister Lissy Vadakkel who is one of the prime witnesses has said that since her testimony is crucial to the case, along with that of the other nuns, multiple pressure tactics are being applied on her to ensure her statement in court does not help the prosecution to secure the conviction of Mulakkal.
In March 2019, Sister Vadakkel has alleged that the Franciscan Clarist Congregation (FCC) had initiated disciplinary action against her, threatened her with expulsion and also stopped providing her with medicines to punish her for standing with the complainant nun. She said that her immediate seniors are also cornering and intimidating her further.
Sister Vadakkel is one of the prime witnesses and had also recorded her statement with the police after the complaint was filed. She currently lives at a convent in Muvattupuzha under police security. Sources indicate that over two dozen nuns, over ten priests have given their testimony to police that helped them build a case against Mulakkal.
A close confidant of Sister Lissy spoke to Republic and said that she has told the police all that the complainant narrated to her regarding rape on multiple occasions. Even when she intended on giving her statement to the police, there were multiple attempts to silence her, even hours before she finally spoke to the police on 5th February 2019.
After that, the gloves were off, many seniors, including the Mother Superior, openly accosted her. From detaching her from activities in the convent to confiscating her mobile phone and even multiple attempts to transfer out of Kerala, the persecution was immense, said the aide. Some threats of bodily harm also were made by a few higher-ups in the Church allegedly but Sister Lissy, along with other witnesses, stood her ground.
As the bail of Franco Mulakkal was extended till 6th, January 2020, many witnesses including Sister Lissy fear for their safety. Sister Lissy has been on a virtual house arrest for months now even as police protection is necessitated for her own security, while the accused, Franco Mulakkal continues to enjoy his liberty and the backing of the Church.
In the convent, witnesses say that the windows to Sister Lissy’s room are not allowed to be opened and she is not given access to many parts of the convent including the open area and the common room with television. Franco Mulakkal faces trial for multiple charges including rape, abuse of power and sexual abuse and torture.