Sex Abuse Victim Files Lawsuit against Priest

July 3, 2009

For immediate release: Thursday, July 2, 2009

For more information: David Clohessy 314 566 9790, Barbara Dorris 314 862 7688

Case is unusual because alleged crimes are recent

Catholic officials have sent accused predator to India

Cleric is believed to be working for the church even now

He's accused of molesting a teenaged girl in Greenbush in 2004

Support group urges those who "saw, suspected or suffered" clergy crimes to speak up

A new civil lawsuit accuses a Catholic priest of molesting a Greenbush girl in 2004 and says church officials "knew or should have known" about the priest's "dangerous and exploitative propensities" yet failed to "remove him from a position of trust" over kids.

A support group for clergy molestation victims is announcing the suit, which is against the Crookston diocese and accuses Fr. Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul of child sexual abuse.

Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, say they suspect that Jeyapaul may still be in a parish. Internet research indicates that Jeyapaul is back in his native India. There is no mention of him being on suspension or being monitored, SNAP says.

"It's irresponsible for current and former Crookston diocesan staff to keep silent about these allegations, fail to warn Indian Catholics, and do no outreach to others Jeyapaul may have assaulted in or around Crookston," said David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP's national director. "Any prudent person would worry that Jeyapaul still has access to unsuspecting Catholic families and vulnerable Catholic kids."

The self help group is also releasing a statement from the alleged victim. It reads: "When the abuse was happening, I felt overwhelmed and scared. Now, I still feel scared sometimes. But I want to help people who've been hurt by child sex abuse and I don't want them to feel alone. I also want church officials to be held liable for these crimes and this predator to be prosecuted and removed from the priesthood so he can't molest others."

The alleged crimes took place at Blessed Sacrament parish in Greenbush and in Middle River, where the victim and her family were members and where Jeyapaul worked. She was 15 years old at the time.

"We are very grateful that this brave young woman cares deeply about the safety of others and is taking steps to prevent future child sex crimes," said Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, SNAP's outreach director. "We are

confident that her courage and compassion will help her heal and help others avoid being victimized."

"Every Minnesota parent should appreciate this strong but suffering victim," said Bob Schwiderski of Wayzata, SNAP's Minnesota Director. "Because she's resilient and is taking action, we know that more people who have been victimized as children will be inspired to break out of their shame and isolation and start recovering."

The lawsuit charges the diocese with several offenses including negligence, negligent supervision, and negligent retention. It is being filed today in Roseau County Court and seeks unspecified damages and a jury trial.

The victim is represented by attorneys Jeff Anderson of St. Paul MN (651 227 9990, 612 817 8665 cell) and Steve Anderson of Warroad MN (218 386 1040)


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