MN--Survivor response to Jeyapaul sentencing
For immediate release Monday, June 15
Statement by Megan Peterson survivor of Fr. Jeyapaul, 218-689-9049
I was going to wait until I felt I had become centered again. Waiting for myself to be able to approach this in a very formal and graceful manner for you all. To erase all hints of anger and discomfort. To be a put-together, well-oiled machine. But the truth is, life is messy. Our emotions are messy. We cannot always carry ourselves with the grace we have envisioned.
I want to be as honest with myself and with you as possible to show that you don’t have to be put together. We all deserve the opportunity to hurt, to be messy, and to mourn. Myself included. Maybe by being a little more vulnerable and messy we can give one another a better opportunity to connect and understand each other. Because the truth is, this hurts. There are moments when it doesn’t feel fair or right at all. Moments when it is hard to swallow and even harder to breathe. When the full weight of this comes barreling at me like a freight train, hits and knocks me down. And then I breathe again. I see the positives, I see the differences that we have made. I have known all along, through each emotion I endured, that every step was worth it.
Justice is not always black and white. Although I would have loved to see Joseph Jeyapaul criminally prosecuted for what he did to me, that was not what this ten-year journey was ultimately about. It was and remains about the children and doing everything in my power to keep them safe from what I know to be harmful. Which I believe I have done and will continue to do. I believe protecting children is everybody’s responsibility. For all of society loses when a child is harmed. It is my hope that individuals, in the Crookston Diocese and elsewhere, will continue to come forward with information about any suspected abuse and/or cover-up.
I was advised shortly before Jeyapaul was to be extradited back to drop the charges, as it could cause too much harm and potentially be damaging to myself. I was told the likelihood of his being prosecuted, for various reasons, would be slim to none. But I didn’t drop the charges. It is a decision I did not make lightly. As hard as it was, I would make the exact same decision one thousand times over again. There were a few things in particular that weighed on my mind. One, it was my understanding that if I decided against his extradition the other brave individual he harmed would lose the opportunity to see him criminally prosecuted. Two, as painful as the process was expected to be and was, I knew at the very least we could keep him incarcerated and away from children this way— if only for a little while longer.
You can choose to believe me or not, stand with or against me. But whatever you choose, know that it will not deter me from sharing my truth, spreading my light, and protecting your children. I will never be silenced again. The charges filed against him and his guilty plea will forever be known. His crimes have been revealed world-wide, and his true colors have been permanently exposed. Because of this, children stand a better chance to be protected against him and others like him. For this, I am eternally grateful and proud of what we have accomplished. I am grateful for the journey that brought us here and brought myself back to me.
I am also so very grateful to all of those who have been involved in the process of getting justice. From law enforcement officials, whistleblowers, attorneys, doctors, activists, survivors, supporters, friends, and even strangers. I will forever remember those who chose to stand by me for the past ten years. We have successfully exposed the cover-ups and crimes committed by Father Joseph Jeyapaul and certain Catholic officials. I think of a time when I wasn’t believed and supported. When all of what we have accomplished seemed far from possible and even more out of reach. A time when I was so wounded and self-destructive that I was unable to help myself or even think about helping others. But all of you stood up and gave me a fighting chance. I tried not to waste it, as it is the most precious gift I have ever received. I hope everyone can view this as a success. I hope you all know how deeply grateful I am to each and every one of you. Please know that I not only ran with this second chance at life, I sprinted. I will continue to do so. I hope that you feel your efforts have been worthwhile and that you know your gifts have not been wasted or unappreciated. I am glad you all were able to see my worth and push for me long before I was able to.