Indian priest pleads guilty to sex crime in US

Minnesota (Matters India): A Catholic priest has pleaded guilty to child sex crimes in a US court.

Fr Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul, who is charged in two separate cases in Minnesota 9th District Court in Roseau with sex crimes involving minors, appeared in court on Friday, reports

The priest, who was originally from Ooty diocese in southern India, had worked in Minnesota dioceses in St. Paul and Crookston.

Fr Jeyapaul filed a petition to enter a guilty plea in one of the cases, in which he is charged with fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct. A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for June 15.

The priest was extradited from India to the U.S. in November to face the criminal charges that had been pending, in one of the two cases, since 2006.

In the case that was filed in 2006, he is accused of sexually assaulting a parish member in Greenbush, Minnesota, when the victim was 14 and 15 years old, in 2004 and 2005.

At the time, Jeyapaul was administrator of Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Greenbush as well as St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Middle River, Minnesota, and St. Edward’s Catholic Church in Karlstad, Minn.

He is also accused of sexually assaulting another girl.

Fr Jayapaul, who had fought against his extradition in Indian courts, has been pleading that he is innocent.

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