Indian Court: Priest Should Face Charges in US

Associated Press/September 7, 2014

New Delhi -- An Indian court has recommended that the government extradite a Roman Catholic priest wanted in the United States on charges of sexually assaulting a teenage parishioner in Minnesota, a lawyer in the case said Sunday.

It's now up to the federal government to decide whether the Rev. Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul should be sent to the U.S. to stand trial, said Naveen Kumar Matta, a public prosecutor for India's Ministry of External Affairs.

The recommendation by Magistrate Ajay Garg was made Friday. The United States had requested in 2011 that Jeyapaul be extradited.

Jeyapaul, a 59-year-old Indian citizen, has denied molesting the 14-year-old girl in 2004 when he was working at the Blessed Sacrament Church in Greenbush, near the Canadian border.

He returned to India in 2005 to visit his ailing mother, and was asked not to return to the Minnesota church after being accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a 16-year-old.

The criminal case relating to the 14-year-old was filed later. Jeyapaul never returned to the United States.

Vatican officials recommended Jeyapaul's removal from the priesthood, but the local Indian bishop instead sentenced him to a year in a monastery through a canonical trial.

Jeyapaul was one of many foreign priests brought to the U.S. to help fill shortages in American parishes.

He was arrested in the southern Indian city of Erode in 2012 after Interpol issued an alert and has been in prison since.

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