- Victim pushes bishops to act
- Her perpetrator was just arrested in India
- Prelate “fakes cooperation” with cops, she maintains
- "He did nothing to help catch or warn about predator," she says
- SNAP: "She's a rarity: a young college student who's speaking out"
- Group releases petitions signed by Catholics backing fugitive priest
Holding signs and childhood photos, clergy sex abuse victims will blast a Minnesota Catholic bishop for not helping police catch a just-arrested fugitive predator priest. They will also urge all Minnesota Catholic bishops to
--seek out more people who may have been hurt by the cleric,
--do “more than just the bare minimum” with pedophile priests, and
--insist that their flocks respond with compassion, not combativeness, in such cases
They will also release copies of a petition signed by hundreds of the accused priest’s supporters and urge Catholic officials to do all they can to stop parishioners from making “hurtful moves that intimidate victims.”
TODAY, Thursday, March 22 at 1:30 PM
Chancery, Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis, 226 Summit Avenue, Saint Paul, MN
2-4 members of an international support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org) including Megan Peterson, a 21 year old Minnesota college student who brought both criminal and civil legal action against the fugitive.
On Tuesday, Fr. Joseph Jeyapaul – a fugitive from justice for years – was arrested in his home country of India and will be sent back to Minnesota to face criminal charges. Jeyapaul was wanted for abusing then-14-year-old Megan Peterson in 2004 when she approached him for advice about becoming a nun. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2117651/Joseph-Jeyapaul-Fugitive-priest-arrested-India-7-years-run-sexually-assaulted-girl.html)
As early as August 2004, Crookston church officials allegedly knew of allegations against Jeyapaul. But they’ve done “little or nothing,” SNAP says, to help police finding or catch him or warn parents about him.
Recently, however, Crookston Bishop Michael Hoeppner claims to have “cooperated” in the cleric’s arrest. SNAP leaders strongly dispute this, believing that church officials have done “the absolute bare minimum” in this, and in almost every) pedophile priest case. The group says the Catholic hierarchy has “massive resources” that should have been used to find others who saw, suspected or suffered Jeyapaul’s crimes and political clout that should have been used to pressure secular officials to more vigorously investigate and pursue him.
Today, Peterson and SNAP will urge Hoeppner to personally visit the parishes where Jeyapaul worked and beg other victims or witnesses to come forward now.
SNAP will also release a copy of a petition, signed by over 400 Catholics in India, supporting the accused priest. They will call on all Minnesota bishops to educate parishioners on how to appropriately and compassionately respond when child sex cases emerge, in ways that do not deter others with suspicions or knowledge of clergy sex crimes from stepping forward.
“Bishop Hoeppner should speak out against this petition and should support Megan and others who may have been victimized by Jeyapaul,” said SNAP director David Clohessy. “Others who were hurt by this predator need support to come forward, not support for the man who abused them.”
It's helpful, SNAP says, for Catholics and citizens to remember that most child predators are very popular and charismatic, and quietly but effectively rally others to his/her side, further scaring victims into staying silent.
Roseau County prosecutor Karen Foss (218 463 4100) is overseeing the criminal case against Jeyapaul. Peterson was represented by attorneys Jeff Anderson of St. Paul MN (651 227 9990, 612 817 8665 cell) and Steve Anderson of Warroad MN (218 386 1040).