Diocese Shelters Priest with Abuse Charges

Times of India
April 21, 2016

Udhagamandalam: Fr Jeyapaul Joseph Palanivel, the priest with a history of child sexual abuse charges and now accused of sexually abusing an American woman, has been given a residence by the Ootacamund diocese which refuses to divulge where he is.

"We cannot disclose the whereabouts of Fr Jeyapaul Joseph Palanivel," said diocese spokesman Fr Sebastian Selvanathan on Wednesday.

He also refused to divulge the whereabouts of Ooty bishop A Amalraj.

Jeyapaul, who served as a priest in Crookston township of Minnesota in 2004 and 2005, was arrested in India in 2012 on charges of sexually abusing two girls in a congregation. He was extradited to the US. After serving his sentence for a year and one day, he was deported to India last year. Recently, advocacy group SNAP (Survivors Net work of those Abused by Priests) announced that one of the sexual abuse survivors in the US has sued the priest and the diocese.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) said the bishop of Ooty has not had any communication with them over the reinstatement of Jeyapaul. "Any priest facing allegations will be dismissed immediately and if allegations are found to be true legally, the church will defrock the priest," said CBCI public relations officer Gyan Prakash Topno.

The Ooty diocese spokesman, meanwhile, said he was unaware of the sexual abuse charge by the American woman. Vidya Reddy of Tulir, Centre for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse, said if an institution was assisting in a cover up, it should also be considered guilty.

In February, a press release from the Ooty bishop's house said, "The Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, after careful consideration of the case issued the direction to the diocese vide its communication dated December 21, 2015. As per directives of the congregation, the penalty of suspension has been lifted and it further directed the diocese to impose certain limitations on Fr Jayapaul (giving a specific residence and no ministry with minors). The diocese has complied with the directions issued by Rome".

Ootacamund diocese comprises of the Nilgiris district as well a portion of Sathyamangalam in Erode district.

Jeyapaul, during his 12 months tenure in Minnesotahe had spent three months working with another pastor and only nine months he had served for the parish people in the Crookston diocese. He was sent back to India in 2005.

He was working for his home diocese in Ooty till April 2010 when he was suspended by the diocese. Subsequently, the accused priest was sent for spiritual counseling at Anjali Ashram in Mysore in 2010. In the meantime, Vatican directed diocese bishop A Amalraj to study the matter. A reply was given by the diocese lawyer to the Vatican.

In 2012, he was arrested in India and extradited to the US on charges of sexually abusing two girls in a congregation. While Jayapal was acquitted from the first case, he was convicted for charge number two and the punishment being imprisonment of 12 months and one day. Later, he was set free by the district court of Minnesota vide its order dated June15, 2015.








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