MN--Victims to leaflet about notorious predator priest
For immediate release: Thursday, April 14, 2016
Abuse victims to leaflet parishes
They’re worried about convicted predator
Despite priest’s guilt, Vatican lifted his suspension
Group wants to find other “victims, witnesses or whistleblowers”
SNAP: “Another criminal case is our only chance to protect other kids”
Weeks ago, Vatican officials lifted the suspension of a Catholic priest who pled guilty to child sex crimes last year in Minnesota.
That decision is prompting one of his victims to launch a “leafletting tour,” seeking out other victims in each of the four towns where the cleric worked.
Next week, Megan Peterson will spend two days in seven towns handing out fliers at or near Catholic churches where Fr. Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul was assigned or where his church colleagues and supervisors now work. The leaflets will urge “anyone who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes or cover ups to call law enforcement immediately,” according to Barbara Dorris, the outreach director of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. She’ll join Peterson in the effort.
And the two vow to keep coming back to northern Minnesota with more leaflets in the future.
“Our goal is to find just one more victim who might be able to file criminal charges and get this proven predator behind bars again,” said Peterson.
“Catholic officials refuse to keep this admitted sex offender away from kids, so our only hope of stopping him is to get him charged and convicted again,” said Dorris. “I’m stunned that top church staff are being so extraordinarily irresponsible, knowing this man is guilty of abusing one girl and is accused of molesting at least two girls.”
News accounts suggest that Fr. Jeyapaul’s current supervisor, Bishop Arulappan Amalraj of the Ootacamund diocese in India (Telephone 0423 2442.366, Fax 0423 - 2441604, 0423 – 2447996, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com) plans to re-assign him next month.
Fr. Jeyapaul has attracted international attention, especially in 2014 when a United Nations panel blasted the Vatican for putting kids’ in harm’s way, citing how the church hierarchy has dealt with the Indian priest.
Prosecutors spent years trying to get the priest extradited from India back to Minnesota.
“We’re heartbroken that kids in India are vulnerable now and may be even more vulnerable soon,” Dorris said. “We feel morally compelled to do something, anything that might get him imprisoned and spare other girls the horrific trauma Megan and others have had to endure.”
The two women will go to five Minnesota towns where Fr. Jeyapaul worked: Thief River Falls, Middle River, Greenbush and Kalstad. They’ll also visit Crookston, where Fr. Jeyapaul’s former supervisors are headquartered. And they’ll go to North Dakota towns - Grand Forks and Fargo – where they believe victims might be or where they believe church officials could and should help.
“Crookston Bishop Michael Hoeppner has a moral and civic duty to use parish bulletins church websites, pulpit announcements and personal visits to seek out anyone with information or suspicions about Fr. Jeyapaul,” said David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP.
That afternoon and evening, they will go to Thief River Falls, Middle River, Greenbush and Kalstad.
“We’ll start at or near the churches but may also go to town squares or shopping areas where folks are congregating,” said Dorris. “Our goal is to make see if we can find and help another girl, teenager or young woman who was hurt by him.”
On Monday, they will leaflet in Grand Forks at two large Catholic churches, St. Michael’s (524 5th Ave. N. near 6th Street, 701-772-2624, http://www.stmichaelsgf.com/parish/)and St. Mary’s (216 Belmont Road near Second, 701-775-9318, http://www.stmarysgfnd.com/).
“We suspect that one or more victims, witnesses or whistleblowers from the Crookston area now live in or near Grand Forks,” said Clohessy. “We also suspect that Fr. Jeyapaul spent some time in Fargo diocese, substituting for an ill or vacationing priest or attending a big ordination. And we know it takes just seconds for a perp to shove his tongue into a girl’s mouth or his hand into a boy’s pants.”
On Monday, they will hold a news conference outside the Fargo diocese’s headquarters, urging Bishop John Folda to do outreach as well.
“He’ll be tempted to claim ‘Fr. Jeyapaul’s not my responsibility,’ but that’s callous hairsplitting,” said Dorris. “There’s a chance that Bishop Folda might stop one Indian girl from being raped, stop one struggling US victim from committing suicide or prod one suffering North Dakota victim to seek therapy. So it’s cold-hearted of him to passively sit back and do nothing.”
“But no matter what church staff 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 in northern Minnesota to protect kids by calling police, get help by calling therapists, expose wrongdoers by calling journalists, get justice by calling attorneys, and get comfort by calling support groups like ours,” said Dorris. “This is how kids will be safer, adults will recover, criminals will be prosecuted, cover ups will be deterred and the truth will surface.”
In 2005, then-Crookston Bishop Victor Balke wrote the Vatican saying Fr. Jeyapaul “repeatedly kissed” a sixteen year old girl, “pulling her on top of him and at one point touching her beneath her clothing .... there were other incidents of similar behavior” between 2004 and 2005.
In 2006, Bishop Balke wrote that Vatican officials that "Fr. Jeyapaul had 'rubbed up against (a girl) in the rectory and the confessional at Middle River, fondled her breasts, exposed himself to her, and forced his penis into her mouth," adding that "it is impossible to say that Father Jeyapaul does not at present pose a risk to minors."
In March of 2007, a criminal complaint was filed in Roseau County charging that Fr. Jeyapaul penetrated a of girl and threatened her and her family
In August of that year, while criminal charges were pending against him, Fr. Jeyapaul was working at his home diocese’s education office, which oversees 40 schools.
In 2010, he was suspended from ministry and in 2012 he was arrested. In 2014, he was extradited and he pled guilty in 2015 but freed due to “time served” and was expelled from the U.S.
In 2011, Peterson settled a civil abuse and cover up case against the Crookston diocese for $750,000.
Photos and more information about Fr. Jeyapaul are available at BishopAccountability.org
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
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