Jeyapaul was extradited from India.
By Raif Karerat
WASHINGTON, DC: An Indian American priest pleaded guilty on May 22 to sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl while serving in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Crookston, Minnesota. The plea arrived nearly a decade after Rev. Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul took advantage of the young girl, and was extradited from India.
According to the Duluth Tribune, Jeyapaul had previously fled the United States in September 2005 before criminal charges were filed; he was subsequently arrested in March 2012 in India before being extradited last November to face criminal charges in two different cases alleging sexual abuse of underage female parishioners.
The charge he pled guilty to involved an unnamed girl who told police Jeyapaul had forced her to touch him and pulled her on top of him while kissing her on her 16th birthday in 2005, which is classified as fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct and is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
She said she had first met the priest when she was 15, at which point he had touched her thigh. A few weeks later, he began calling her home and telling her he would marry her if he were younger, reported The Tribune.
The victim in the other case, Megan Peterson, has spoken publicly about the horrendous ordeal she underwent as a child. She told police Jeyapaul “violently forced her to give him oral sex and fondled her in the rectory of Blessed Sacrament Church in Greenbush when she was 14,” according to court documents obtained by the Grand Forks Herald.
Peterson later informed investigators the sexual abuse occurred with regularity from 2004 to 2005 and that Jeyapaul would sexually abuse her as often as twice a week during the school year, per court records.
Jeyapaul has not pleaded guilty to Peterson’s allegations, for which he faces 30 years in incarceration for every charge leveled.
However, according to The Herald, the unnamed victim who fell prey to the torrid abuse of Jeyapaul’s priestly station, now 25, will finally see her tormentor sentenced in a court of law on June 15.