Victims’ advocates express shock

    The Roman Catholic Church in southern India recently made a decision to lift the suspension of a former Crookston priest accused of sexual abuse.    

    Father Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul, 61, was originally suspended in 2010 after being charged with assaulting two girls who were both 14 at the time of the alleged abuse. Jeyapaul fled the United States, but was arrested in India by Interpol in 2012 and extradited to the U.S. He plead guilty and was convicted of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a Greenbush, Minnesota teenage girl, and was sentenced to one year in jail.

    Jeyapaul is now back in his native country of India and could be allowed to work in the church again following the lifted suspension.

    Former Clay County prosecutor Heidi Davies told a local news station that she was “shocked” that the Catholic Church had not even contacted law enforcement to learn anything about him or his case. Minneapolis attorney and child victim advocate mentioned that the promise made by Pope Francis to tackle the problem of sexual abuse by priests seems to have been violated.

    Father Jeyapaul was charged with the second criminal sexual conduct case in Greenbush, but the case was dropped due to lack of evidence. Investigators say it’s very doubtful that these are the only incidents in Jeyapaul’s past.

    The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) says, “It’s clear that neither Fr. Jeyapaul’s current supervisor (Bishop Arulappan Amalraj of Ootacamund India) nor this previous ones (Bishop Victor Balke and Bishop Michael Hoeppner of Crookston) are willing to lift a finger to keep this proven predator away from kids. So we hope the Catholics in both dioceses will spread the word about Fr. Jeyapaul and beg his victims to step forward, call police, protect others and start healing.”