Rev. Joseph Palanivel JeyapaulArticle from KSTP ABCNews

A settlement has been reached that prevents a priest convicted of sexual abuse from returning to the ministry.

Prosecutors say the Rev. Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul assaulted Megan Peterson multiple times in 2004 and 2005, starting when she was 14. Jeyapaul was a priest at the Blessed Sacrament Church in Greenbush, Minnesota, near the Canadian border, at the time.

The attorney’s office says Jeyapaul fled to his native India in August 2005 and continued to serve as a priest. He was arrested in India by Interpol in 2012 and extradited to the U.S. in November 2014.

At that time, an additional fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct charge was filed against him for an Aug. 15, 2005, incident at the Diocese of Crookston.

Jeyapaul pleaded guilty to the fourth-degree charge on May 22, 2015, and was sentenced to one year in prison. The first-degree criminal sexual conduct charge was dismissed.

A church spokesman in India said the suspension of Jeyapaul was lifted in January of this year after the bishop of the Ootacamund Diocese in southern India’s Tamil Nadu state consulted with church authorities at the Vatican.

But Peterson said she couldn’t allow him to return to ministry.

“I cannot in good conscience allow that to happen,” Peterson said during a press conference Monday. “I know what this man is capable of and I’ve seen what the church is capable of, which is moving a predator across a country and endangering kids everywhere.”

In the settlement, the diocese agreed to keep Jeyapaul out of the ministry and prevent him from working with youth. They have also agreed to give Peterson yearly status updates on where Jeyapaul is living and what he is doing.

The attorneys for Peterson say the lawsuit was the first nuisance case filed against an overseas diocese.


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