Sex abuse survivor to sue diocese that has reinstated priest

By Ruth Gledhill
Christian Today
April 19, 2016

A survivor of sexual abuse by a Catholic priest who has been reinstated by the Vatican is to sue the priest's diocese.

The New York Daily News reported that Megan Peterson's attorney Jeff Anderson is to file a federal lawsuit against the diocese in India.

Anderson will claim in the suit that the Ootacamund diocese has endangered children by reinstating Father Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul.

Peterson, who says she was a choir member and altar server aged just 14 when she was first raped by the priest in his parish office, told the Daily News in February that she believed the decision to reinstate Jeyapaul gave the paedophile priest a green light to molest children in his native India.

Jeyapaul, who fled to India in 2010 after he was charged with assaulting Peterson and another girl, was arrested in 2012 by Interpol and extradited. He pleaded guilty to sexual assault of the second girl in a plea deal.

He was sentenced to a year in prison but released soon after the deal was reached because of time in jail awaiting trial. He returned to India last year and appealed to return to the ministry. The Congregation for the Doctrine approved this in January.

Barbara Dorris of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said: "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." 

She added: "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."

She acccused the Vatican of "incredible recklessness and callousness".

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


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