Leo Koppala sentenced in Minnesota to 25 years of supervised probation.
By Deepak Chitnis
WASHINGTON, DC: An Indian priest from Andhra Pradesh, living in Minnesota, who pleaded guilty to charges of sexually assaulting a minor last year, has now been sentenced and is likely to be deported back to India as a result.
Father Leo Charles Koppala, of Blue Earth, Minnesota, has inappropriate contact with an 11 year-old girl on June 8 of last year. According to the court documents, Koppala was invited to the home of the girl’s grandmother for dinner that night. Everything was going fine until, when the grandmother was on the phone with someone, the girl went downstairs to watch television.
Koppala followed the girl into the basement, and began telling her that he was glad they could finally be alone now. He then kissed her on her cheeks and lips, and fondled her in several places. When the two of them came upstairs, the grandmother told the court that she could see her granddaughter was upset about something. When Koppola left for home, the victim told her grandmother what happened, and the police were subsequently involved.
The Diocese of Winona put Koppala on leave two days later, and now, he has been sentenced to 25 years of supervised probation. The sentence, passed down by Judge Douglas Richards, is a far sight more lenient than what Koppala initially faced if he didn’t accept the plea deal – 36 years in prison.
He will also be required, like all sex offenders, to enter into the national registry, and will not be allowed to have any contact with females under the age of 18. The severity of his crimes means that he is eligible to be deported, which is what is most likely to occur at this point.
Koppala has the right to appeal the sentence, but his attorney has said that Koppala will probably not fight anything. Speaking to the Fairmont Sentinel, Philip J. Elbert said that Koppala knew all along deportation was a possibility, and had surrendered to it from the start.
The sentence was read earlier today at the Fairbault County Courthouse; Koppala has already served 31 days in the County jail, and will continue to stay in the custody of the Department of Corrections. It is now known when Koppala first came to the US, or what the status of his immigration and naturalization process was at the time of his crime.