A priest on his way to breaking an abuse record
By David Clohessy
It seemed like a one of those sports records that would never be broken. But given what’s just happened, Fr. Joseph Jeyapaul could surpass Fr. Norman Rogge in the annals of the clergy sex abuse crisis.
Rogge is the only priest, as best we can tell, who was put back into ministry twice, after two child sex abuse convictions.
Jeyapaul is half way to equaling this achievement. He’s just been convicted once. But last week, we learned that Vatican officials lifted Jeyapaul’s suspension and his bishop plans to reassign him soon.
This is no joke. This is really happening. In 2016. With the Vatican’s OK.
Rogge’s convictions were in 1967 and 1985. Jeyapaul’s conviction was last year.
We hope, of course, that Jeyapaul equals Rogge in the number of convictions. Though we know of no pending legal action against him, we hope that this breathtakingly reckless decision will prompt other Jeyapaul victims to come forward and pursue more prosecution.
Let’s put it another way: It’s clear that Catholic officials won’t keep Jeyapaul away from kids. So the secular justice system must.
When you get down into the details of the Jeyapaul case, it gets even worse. At least two girls reported being sexually assaulted by Jeyapaul. Both filed civil suits. While those suits and the criminal charges were pending, Jeyapaul’s supervisors let him oversee a group of schools in the Ootacamund Diocese in the Tamil Nadu region of India.
Jeyapaul had to be extradited to the US to face trial in the Crookston diocese. (It took years.)
Both civil suits settled. No one – with the possible exception of Jeyapaul himself – is claiming he’s somehow innocent. (Note: Jeyapaul pled guilty.)
But “within months” of his return to India, Bishop Amalraj Arulappan starting seeking Vatican approval to put Jeyapaul back on the job.
So getting back to the pending controversy: It’s exciting to see history being made. Still, I’m really hoping Jeyapaul never catches, much less surpasses, Rogge’s record.
(FulI disclosure: I knew and loved one of Rogge's victims - Bob Swart of St. Louis, as compassionate and cheerful a person as you could ever hope to meet. He was a long time SNAP member who, for a decade, came to almost every event we did, whether a support group meeting or a news conference.)
(Rogge worked in these towns: St. Marys KS, Pomfret CA, Dallas TX, Tampa FL, Mobile AL, Berkeley CA, New Orleans and six other Louisiana towns (Grand Coteau, Bellvue, Campti, Trichel, Black Lake, Montgomery. Jeyapaul worked in these northern Minnesota towns: Thief River Falls, Karlstad, Middle River and Greenbush.)