Lawsuit against Crookston Diocese Accuses Priest of Sex Abuse

July 3, 2009

A civil suit filed Thursday accuses a Roman Catholic priest in the Diocese of Crookston of sexually abusing a teenage girl.

In 2004, the Rev. Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul, who has since returned to his native India, allegedly molested a then-15-year-old member of Blessed Sacrament parish in Greenbush, Minn.

"He was a sexual predator," said Jeff Anderson, a St. Paul lawyer who filed the suit in Roseau County Court. "He repeatedly abused her in the confessional, in his office and in other parts of the church. When she finally said something about it, all of a sudden he disappears."

Internet research turned up no reports of Jeyapaul being suspended or monitored. "We think he's still serving as a priest," Anderson said, "and, if so, we're concerned that he's still abusing young girls."

The suit, seeking unspecified damages, names the diocese as the only defendant because international law protects Jeyapaul. "But we sent the bishop in southern India a copy [of the complaint] because we think he should know what's been going on," Anderson said.

No comment was available from the diocese's offices, which had closed for the holiday weekend by the time the suit was filed.


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