Indian Catholic Priest Won’t Fight Extradition on Sex Charges

Rev. Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul, a priest of the diocese of Ootacamund, India was working as a priest at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Greenbush Minnesota when he allegedly sexually assaulted a young female parishioner in 2004. Currently, the priest is wanted in the United States on two counts of criminal sexual conduct. In December 2006, the bishop of the Diocese of Crookston in Minnesota (where Rev. Jeyapaul had been working) wrote to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith concerning the sex abuse allegations lodged against the Indian priest. While Jeyapaul continues to deny the allegations, the Vatican had recommended to Jeyapaul’s diocesan bishop in India that the priest be removed from the priesthood. Instead, Most Rev. A. Almaraj, Jeyapaul’s Indian bishop ordered the priest to spend a year in a monastery. Currently, he remains a priest and is working with the bishop in the chancery.
This case involving an Indian priest is similar to one I handled a few years ago. Our case involved another Indian priest, Rev. Vijay Vhaskr Godugunuru, a priest of the Diocese of Cuddapah in India. He was convicted in Florida of aggravated assault with the intent to commit a felony. As a result of the conviction, the priest was ordered to leave the United States, obtain counseling, and stay away from children.
Recently, I wrote a letter to Cardinal Levada of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith inquiring as to the priest’s living and working arrangements since he poses a risk to children in India. It’s quite possible this priest is working in a parish or a school with children. Because he is a foreign priest, it is very difficult to determine what sort of restrictions, if any, were placed upon him by his own bishop in India. It also quite possible the Catholics in his diocese are unaware of the priest’s criminal history. Prior to writing the letter to Cardinal Levada, I attempted to contact the Indian diocese but had no luck reaching anyone.
In the cases of foreign priests who come to the United States and abuse our children, it’s very important to make sure they are criminally prosecuted and are given no opportunity to harm other children in their native land.