More than one course of action against priest open
Rev. C.M. Joseph, a Chennai-based expert on canon law, said that while he could not comment on Fr. Jeyapaul’s case without studying it, more than one course of action was open to the Bishop of the diocese concerned.
“The priest could be suspended from exercising his priestly ministry. This could be for a certain time period after which he would return. Another course of action could be his removal from the priestly ministry altogether,” he said.
While there is no monitoring programme as such for these cases, Rev. Joseph said if there was an allegation, the person is first warned to correct his behaviour, transferred if he fails to do so and if the behaviour continues, the canon law procedure is then initiated.
“But while we wait for this process to be complete, many more children could be exposed to abuse,” said Ms. Reddy.
Fr. Jeyapaul had spent some time in his home diocese before the law caught up with him. On his return to India in August 2005, he came back to the diocese of Ootacamund, a spokesperson said. “He was in charge of school education in the diocese for about a year after he came back, and after that he remained in the diocese,” he said.
In February 2011, the U.S. requested his extradition to face charges of criminal sexual conduct.
In March 2012, Fr. Jeyapaul was arrested in Erode district by the Tamil Nadu police and lodged in Tihar Jail. A Delhi court recommended his extradition in September 2014.
Fr. Jeyapaul pleaded guilty to criminal sexual misconduct in one case. Charges in the second case, however, were dropped.