Nuns who protested Indian bishop accused of rape say church trying to silence them

People hold a protest against Bishop Franco Mulakkal, after he was accused by a nun of raping her in the southern Indian state of Kerala.

New Delhi (CNN)A group of nuns who spoke out about alleged sexual abuse by a bishop in the southern Indian state of Kerala claim the church is attempting to transfer them to other parts of the country, in an apparent attempt to silence them.

The nuns recently asked the chief minister of Kerala to intervene on their behalf, after they say church officials ordered them to leave the state.
All the women who received transfer notices had supported a fellow nun who alleged last year that Bishop Franco Mulakkal had raped her 13 times between 2014 and 2016. The incidents purportedly occurred in a guest house of the St. Franco Mission Home in Kerala.
"They want to split all of us and put into different locations in India," the nuns said in a letter to Kerala authorities. "We will not be able to appear and give evidence before the court at the trial stage in such situations."
    Mulakkal, who is currently based in the northern state of Punjab, has denied all charges against him and is currently out on bail awaiting trial. Church officials in Kerala could not be reached for comment.