The Vatican and the Jeyapaul Case

In 2004, the Rev. Jeyapaul Joseph Palanivel was accepted by the U.S. Diocese of Crookston in Minnesota for parish work. The arrangement had been proposed for Jeyapaul, as the priest is usually known, by his home diocese of Ootacamund in the state of Tamil Nadu in southern India. Jeyapaul was in Crookston for less than a year, but in that brief time, he is accused of sexually abusing two female minors, is suspected of abusing at least one other girl, and is now the subject of a police investigation and a civil suit. Jeyapaul is also accused of taking money from the Crookston diocese.

Crookston bishop Victor Balke wrote repeatedly to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, urging it to take the Jeyapaul case, and even appealed to the dicastery in person. Yet as of April 5, 2010, over five years after he allegedly committed the crimes, Jeyapaul is a senior official in the Diocese of Ootacamund, with the schools as one of his portfolios, and the CDF has ignored the case.

This page provides documents that were obtained by counsel for the plaintiff in the civil suit, Jane Doe 121 v. the Diocese of Crookston. At a time when the role of the Vatican bureaucracy in abuse cases is coming under increased scrutiny, the Jeyapaul documents show the Vatican allowing a priest to remain in ministry, though the CDF has long possessed strong evidence that he is credibly accused. At a time when foreign priests are being used to patch a U.S. priest shortage, the Jeyapaul documents cast doubt on the formation of such priests, and on the system's ability to monitor and discipline them effectively.

Below we provide a timeline of the Jeyapaul case with links to dozens of documents. The paper trail of neglect by Cardinal Levada at the CDF is contained in five documents: Bishop Balke's original 2005 request, the CDF's inadequate response, and then Balke's increasingly urgent letters, as the case worsened in his own diocese: see the letters he wrote in November 2006, December 2006, and March 2007.

Vatican, CDF, and Cardinal Levada's involvement from 2005
to the present in sexual abuse allegations
against Father Joseph Jeyapaul

1982 Father Joseph Jeyapaul ordained in the Diocese of Ootacamund, India.

1982-2004 Father Jeyapaul had various parish assignments at schools and churches in India within the Diocese of Ootacamund

2004 Father Jeyapaul came to work in the Diocese of Crookston in Minnesota,
United States

2005 Diocese of Crookston received allegations that Father Jeyapaul engaged in sexual misconduct with a minor

9/2005 Jeyapaul left the United States and returned to India

9/16-17/05 Jeyapaul emails with parishioner F-1, and reveals information that he learned from Girl 1 during confession

10/11/05 Bishop Victor Balke signed a decree stating that there is information that Father Jeyapaul "engaged in sexual misconduct with a minor."

10/19/05 Bishop Balke wrote to Jeyapaul's superiors in India about the allegation against Jeyapaul (see also the reply)

10/28/05 Msgr. Antony Swamy (now Vicar General), the administrator of the Diocese of Ootacamund at the time, wrote to Bishop Balke that he received Balke's letter.

11/08/05 Bishop Balke again wrote to Msgr. Swamy that the civil authorities in Minnesota were looking into criminal charges against Jeyapaul.

11/21/05 Msgr. Swamy wrote to Bishop Balke stating that he had sternly warned Jeyapaul of any further mischief or such allegations in the future. (page 2 missing)

12/07/05 Bishop Balke determined that the allegations against Jeyapaul must be referred to the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in accordance with the Vatican's 2001 Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela

12/07/05 FIRST LETTER TO CDF - Bishop Balke wrote to Cardinal William Levada, the head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Balke wrote that Jeyapaul took a sixteen year old girl to his rectory in the Diocese of Crookston and "kissed her repeatedly, pulling her on top of him and at one point touching her beneath her clothing .... there were other incidents of similar behavior between Fr. Jeyapaul and [the sixteen year old girl]." The abuse happened between 2004 and 2005. Bishop Balke also stated that "because of the recent date of the alleged misconduct, it is impossible to say that Father Jeyapaul does not at present pose a risk to minors." Balke also asked the CDF to take the matter and penalize Jeyapaul as it sees fit. (Ex. 60)

5 Months After Bishop Balke's Letter to the CDF

5/18/06 Archbishop Angelo Amato, secretary at the CDF, wrote back to Bishop Balke that the CDF had gotten the information on Jeyapaul. The CDF stated that it examined the situation and communicated the facts to Jeyapaul's Bishop "with the request that Father Jeyapaul's priestly life be monitored so that he does not constitute a risk to minors and does not create scandal."

10/2006 Diocese of Crookston received allegations that Jeyapaul had sexually molested a second girl, Jane Doe 121 (she is "Girl 2" in our redactions of the documents)

11/15/06 SECOND LETTER TO CDF - Bishop Balke wrote to Cardinal Levada, the Vatican's head of the CDF, that Jeyapaul had been accused of sexually molesting a second girl. In the letter Balke told Levada that the allegations were that "Fr. Jeyapaul had 'rubbed up against her' in the rectory at Middle River, in the confessional at Middle River, and then fondled her breasts, exposed himself to her, and forced his penis into her mouth." Balke wrote that "it is impossible to say that Father Jeyapaul does not at present pose a risk to minors." Balke wrote that due to this second allegation possibly a more severe penalty was necessitated.

11/2006 MEETING WITH CDF - Bishop Balke met with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to present the file on Father Jeyapaul.

12/21/06 THIRD LETTER TO CDF - Bishop Balke wrote to Cardinal Levada and stated that law enforcement was going to pursue extradition of Father Jeyapaul in light of the most recent allegations. Balke asked for information about Jeyapaul's whereabouts and also for a speedy resolution.

12/28/06 The Vatican's apostolic nuncio wrote to Bishop Balke that Jeyapaul's current residence was at St. Joseph's church in Kalhatti, India. The nuncio's enclosure shows that he had corresponded about the Jeyapaul case with the then-apostolic nuncio of India, Archbishop Pedro López Quintana, now the nuncio in Canada

3/05/07 FOURTH LETTER TO CDF - Bishop Balke wrote to Cardinal Levada at the Vatican's CDF and enclosed emails suggesting that Jeyapaul violated the sacramental seal of confession and that the information should be included in the CDF's file on Jeyapaul.

3/7/07 A criminal complaint is filed in Roseau County District Court alleging oral penetration of Girl 2 by Jeyapaul, who is also alleged to have threatened her and her family.
8/02/07 Fr. Jeyapaul wrote to a parishioner in the Diocese of Crookston and the letter was passed along to the Diocese of Crookston. The letter stated that Jeyapaul is currently the secretary for the Diocesan Commission for Education in the Diocese of Ootacamund, India. He stated that they have 40 schools in the diocese. He also requested money so that he can have toilets built for the children at the schools. Finally, Jeyapaul wrote that a Jubilee Mass (25 years in priesthood) was celebrated for him.

9/18/07 Balke wrote to the Vatican's apostolic nuncio in Washington to verify that Jeyapaul's current address is Bishop's House in Ootacamund.

9/21/07 Archbishop Sambi, the Vatican's Apostolic Nuncio, wrote back to Bishop Balke that he didn't have a current address for Jeyapaul, but Bishop Balke could write to Jeyapaul's Bishop in India.

2/7/08 Jane Doe 121 v. Diocese of Crookston complaint is filed

12/19/09 Bishop Balke testified that he didn't recall any response from or action taken by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith or the Holy See in response to his letters to Cardinal Levada. (Balke deposition pp. 80-81)

3/2010 Diocese of Ootacamund News Bulletin dated March 2010 listed Jeyapaul as secretary of the Education Commission and stated that the Education Committee visited St. Ignatius' Hr. Sec. School and the Primary School at Budapadi, India. (Ex. 100) The News Bulletin is published monthly; we have cached a copy of the March 2010 issue. Jeyapaul's position as secretary of the Education Commission is stated on the diocesan curia page. We have cached a copy of the curia page as it appeared on 4/5/10. See also PDFs of the March 2010 News Bulletin and curia page. Jeyapaul is listed at Bishop's House (see also a cached copy of the clergy list).

Note: has revised and expanded this timeline from the case file, adding links to the documents in the file.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.