Minneapolis: A Roman Catholic priest who is accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old US girl has been returned to the US from his native India to face charges, authorities said.
The Rev Joseph Jeyapaul arrived in Minneapolis yesterday, just days after a high court in New Delhi, India, found no fault in a lower court's decision to recommend his extradition, said Roseau County Attorney Karen Foss.
Foss said Jeyapaul is expected to be transported today to Roseau County in northern Minnesota, where he will appear before a judge. A court hearing has not yet been scheduled.
Jeyapaul, 59, is charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual misconduct. Prosecutors say he raped a girl multiple times in 2004 and 2005, starting when she was 14. Jeyapaul has denied the allegations.
Jeyapaul came to Minnesota in 2004, after an international background check, and served at the Blessed Sacrament Church in Greenbush, near the Canadian border, at the time of the alleged abuse.
He left Minnesota in 2005 and returned to India to care for his sick mother. While he was overseas, the Diocese of Crookston received allegations that he had an inappropriate relationship with a 16-year-old girl.
Jeyapaul was told not to return to Minnesota. He was then charged in 2006 in the sexual assault of the younger teen. Foss said Jeyapaul may face additional charges.
"It's a great relief to finally get this process going," Foss said, adding that her office started the extradition process about five years ago. "I talked to the victim in this matter. She's a little anxious obviously. ... We are hoping to get a conviction in this matter based on the allegations and her testimony."
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. He was arrested in the southern Indian city of Erode in 2012 after Interpol issued an alert. He has been in custody since.