Protesters from SNAP demonstrate outside Crookston Cathedral, other parishes
The cold rainy weather didn’t hold back SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) members Barbara Dorris and Megan Peterson from handing out fliers outside after Mass at Cathedral of Immaculate Conception in Crookston Sunday morning.
Dorris and Peterson had a goal of reaching out to anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered harm from former Crookston Diocese priest Father Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul during this employment there between 2004-2005, and any other church staff or cover-ups by church officials.
Peterson, 26, was sexually abused by Jeyapaul when she was 15-16 years old while she was a member of the St. Joseph Parish in Middle River, Blessed Sacrament in Greenbush and St. Edwards Parish in Karlstad. Five years after the incident with Peterson, Jeyapaul was suspended from ministry and two years later was arrested. In 2014, he was extradited from India and he pled guilty to the charges. In 2015, Jeyapaul was freed due to time served and expelled from the U.S.
In 2011, Peterson settled a civil abuse and cover-up case against the Crookston Diocese for $750,000, said an email from the SNAP Network detailing Jeyapaul’s charges.
Peterson, Dorris and other SNAP members traveled to seven towns in two days handing out fliers at or near Catholic churches where Jeyapaul was assigned or where his church colleagues and supervisors now work.
“Crookston Bishop Michael Hoeppner has a moral and civic duty to use parish bulletins, church websites, pulpit announcements and personal visits to seek out anyone with information or suspicions of Fr. Jeyapaul,” said SNAP director David Clohessy in an email to media and other SNAP members. “We also suspect that Fr. Jeyapaul spent some time in Fargo diocese, substituting for an ill or vacationing priest or attending a big ordination.”
On Monday, SNAP members held a news conference outside the Fargo diocese’s headquarters urging Bishop John Folda to do outreach as well.
In a letter by Crookston Bishop Michael Hoeppner to Father Luis Buitron at the Blessed Sacrament Church in Greenbush, Hoeppner said, “Because Fr. Jeyapaul has admitted to a felony involving sexual misconduct, I, as Bishop of Crookston would never allow Fr. Jeyapaul to minister here. As you know from the moment credible accusation on Fr. Jeyapaul was received, Bishop Balke did not allow Fr. Jeyapaul to minister here nor have I.”
Hoeppner went on to say in his letter that he was not sure if Jeyapaul would be cleared for assignment to some ministry by his bishop in India.
“As I understand it, he has pleaded guilty to a felony here (in the U.S.) and the more serious criminal complaint of first degree sexual assault was dropped,” Hoeppner continued. “I do not know as a fact whether the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith heard an appeal from Fr. Jeyapaul.”