SNAP protests lifted suspension of MN priest convicted of sexual abuse

By Jovana Simic
Valley News Live
April 17, 2016

[with video]

Crookston, Minn (Valley News Live) SNAP, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, urged other victims to come forward following mass at a Crookston church today.

Weeks ago Vatican officials lifted the suspension of a Minnesota catholic priest who pled guilty to child sex crimes in 2015. Father Joseph Jeyapaul served four years in prison and was sent back to his native country of India.

"I was shocked and felt re-victimized all over again by the Catholic Church," Megan Peterson said.

Anger is just one of the emotions she feels since the church lifted Father Jeyapaul's suspension, a man she trusted and fell victim to when she was 14 years-old. Peterson says she can't sit by anymore.

"Spreading the message about Jeyapaul being placed back into ministry. As a survivor of Jeyapaul, I feel that it's my obligation to do everything possible to continue to expose him and to reach out to other survivors," Peterson said.

Along with a SNAP advocate, they handed out pamphlets hoping to reach out to anyone else that was harmed by Jeyapaul. The women don't want to see any other children fall victim.

"To put this man behind bars where he cannot hurt another child. If there are victims and witnesses, if they have any information, any shred of information, no matter how old or insignificant, call law enforcement," SNAP outreach director Barbara Dorris said.

With the suspension lifted, it appears Jeyapaul can return to ministry work in India, something that's worrying victims.

"Doesn’t matter that we don't know the children in India, they are as important and as precious as the children right here in Crookston. We have found people to be very concerned, very involved, and very willing to help,” Dorris said.

Pope Francis has pledged to tackle the problem of sexual abuse by priests.

"The pope says he is going to do everything in his power to protect kids and yet here we have a convicted child predator who is going to be put back in a parish. There is no excuse for that, it's reckless, it's dangerous, it's harmful, and it's so hurtful to the victims,” Dorris said.

Peterson has advice for those who are like herself, a victim.

"It’s not your fault, you are not alone. Please reach out, go to a therapist, the police, contact SNAP, contact anybody that you are comfortable with and start the healing process,” Peterson said.

The two woman vow to keep coming back to northern Minnesota with their message. They will be in Grand Forks and Fargo Monday spreading their message.



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