Tn Cops Arrest Priest Charged with Minor's Rape in US
March 17, 2012
A Christian priest wanted by the Interpol for allegedly raping a minor girl in the US eight years ago has been arrested in Erode district, around 450km from here, the police said on Saturday.
Rev Jeyapaul alias Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul, 57, was charged by US authorities with raping a 14-year-old girl in 2004 when he was engaged in pastoral duties at a church under the diocese of Crookston, Minnesota. His responsibilities there included taking care of children, police sources said.
A suit in this regard had also been registered in the Roseau County Court. However, Jeyapaul managed to flee from the US in 2005 and has since then maintained a low profile serving at far-flung churches in Tamil Nadu.
The US police then handed over the case to the Interpol, which obtained an arrest warrant against the priest and asked Tamil Nadu police to trace him.
Following an alert, the local police traced Jeyapaul to a church at Smitahalli near Thalavadi in Erode and nabbed him on Friday night. Jeyapaul was assisting the parish in the church to avoid interacting with people and being in the forefront, the police said.
A senior police officer from Erode said the priest was produced in the judicial magistrate court and handed over to Interpol officials in New Delhi on Saturday. There were requests for Jeyapaul's arrest in 2009 too when he was serving in the Ooty church. But the Ooty diocese allegedly protected him, saying he was innocent. After that, Jeyapaul reportedly left Ooty and joined a different church.
Jeyapaul has maintained that he is innocent and that the charges against him are motivated.