Vatican--Novel suit is filed vs. convicted predator who’s set to go back to work; Victims respond

By Barbara Dorris
Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests
April 19, 2016

It may be the most irresponsible Vatican move we’ve ever seen: Catholic officials in Rome have lifted the suspension of a recently convicted predator priest. We are stunned and saddened by such blatant recklessness and callousness 

But we’re grateful that one of the priest’s victims is filing a new lawsuit, using a new approach, to try and protect kids from this admitted child molesting cleric.

Tomorrow, in Minnesota, an unusual lawsuit will be filed against Fr. Joseph Jeyapaul and his Catholic supervisors. Weeks ago, Fr. Jeyapaul’s bishop in India announced that the CDF had lifted Fr. Jeyapaul’s suspension and that next month, he’ll be reassigned.

This is a novel legal approach – charging Catholic officials with creating “public nuisances” by hiding and helping predator priests. In several states (especially Minnesota), it’s working. We hope more victims start to use it.  Something new and more must be done to prod Catholic bishops to better safeguard the vulnerable and to stop enabling heinous child sex crimes.

Many other horrific clergy sex abuse and cover up cases involve

--local bishops, not Vatican officials, putting kids in harm’s way,

--credibly accused pedophile priests, not convicted ones, being put back on the job around kids, and

--irresponsible actions years before, not years after, repeated policies and pledges by church officials to keep child molesting kids out of ministry and away from kids.

So for these reasons, we consider the Vatican’s incredible recklessness and callousness in this case perhaps the worst we’ve ever seen.

To be clear, bishops have put other convicted child molesters back into parishes.

And to be clear, bishops still put and keep credibly accused predator priests in churches and schools. (Here are ten such cases in the US:

But how, in 2015, under Pope Francis, who has made so many promises to do better with pedophile priests and who professes such concern for the vulnerable and suffering, does an admitted predator priest who faced two criminal charges (and was found guilty on one of them) and two civil lawsuits (both of which settled) and was a fugitive from justice and had to be extradited back to the US, get his suspension lifted just months after completing his prison sentence? It is mind-boggling.

It was Megan Peterson’s courage that brought forward a second victim of Fr. Jeyapaul. It was the second victim’s courage that prodded Fr. Jeyapaul to plead guilty. And we hope the courage of a third victim will get Fr. Jeyapaul extradited, convicted and jailed again, so that no more innocent lives are shattered.

Until he’s charged and convicted again, Fr. Jeyapaul should be put in a remote, secure, independently-run treatment center far from families who have learned to trust him.

No matter what church officials do or don’t do, we urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes and cover ups in Catholic churches or institutions to protect kids by calling police, get help by calling therapists, expose wrongdoers by calling law enforcement, get justice by calling attorneys, and be comforted by calling support groups like ours. This is how kids will be safer, adults will recover, criminals will be prosecuted, cover ups will be deterred and the truth will surface.



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