Priest convicted of sexual abuse in U.S. set to return
The Catholic priest from Tamil Nadu, Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul, who was convicted of sexually abusing a teenage girl in Minnesota, U.S., after serving sentence, is set to return, sparking concern among activists in the State about how the activities of such convicted offenders will be monitored. Going by reports in the western media, Fr. Jeyapaul will be returning as his sentence of one year and one day in prison has already been served in custody.
The issue raises serious questions of monitoring and supervision of convicted sexual offenders, especially those who work with children, said Vidya Reddy of Tulir – Centre for Prevention and Healing of Child Abuse. “I am not saying people should not be given a second chance, but what is the monitoring system that is put in place to ensure they do not work with children and young people again,” she asked, adding, “the biggest societal blind spot we all have is the repetitiveness of most abusers.”
Criminal charges were filed against Fr. Jeyapaul, 60, in December 2006 for an offence dating back to the time he served as a priest in the diocese of Crookston, Minnesota in 2004 and 2005. He was held in Erode in Tamil Nadu in March 2012 and extradited to the U.S. in November 2014.
The diocese of Ootacamund, to which Fr. Jeyapaul has been attached since 1982, is yet to decide on the action to be taken against him. A.S. Selvanathan, a spokesperson for the diocese, said, “The diocese will take a decision in the matter only after we get confirmed facts about the judgment.”
Bishop Salvadore Lobo, chairman, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India’s (CBCI) office for social communications, also said they were waiting to hear officially about the case and action would be taken based on the guidelines drafted for clergymen by the CBCI.
Barbara Dorris, outreach director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, U.S., said in a statement, “We’re deeply worried that Fr. Jeyapaul will soon be near unsuspecting families.”