Ban on priest convicted of sexually assaulting MN girl is lifted

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The Catholic church in India has lifted its suspension of a priest accused of sexually assaulting a Minnesota girl.

Rev. Joseph Jeyapaul's suspension was lifted last month after the bishop of the Ootacamund Diocese in India consulted with church officials at the Vatican, UCA News reports.

"It was not a personal decision, but was done after extensive consultation and under the guidance of competent authorities," Bishop Arulappan Amalraj told UCA News.

Jeyapaul was sent to Minnesota in 2004, where he worked at the Blessed Sacrament Church in Greenbush in far northern Minnesota, where we was for about a year before returning to India, The Associated Press reports.

He was arrested in 2012, accused of sexually assaulting two 14-year-old girls while he was working in Minnesota. He pleaded guilty to molesting one of the teenagers, and as part of the plea deal, the charges involving the second teen were dropped, UCA News reports. He was sentenced to a year in jail.

"This is an outrage and again demonstrates the cavalier attitude of the Bishop and the Vatican that they can do what they want, when they want, at the grave peril to kids," attorney Jeff Anderson, who represented the two women the priest was charged with sexually abusing, said in a statement about Jeyapaul's suspension being lifted.

Jeyapaul, now 61, hasn't been assigned any responsibilities since his suspension was lifted in mid-January, with a spokesperson saying that decision will be made in May, the AP reports.

David Clohessy, the Director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), also released a statement, saying SNAP hopes "parishioners will give up on the comforting but obviously dead-wrong notion that Catholic officials will handle predators and abuse reports properly."

"We also hope this dangerous injustice will prompt many more who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes and cover ups to speak up, expose wrongdoers, protect kids and start healing," Clohessy added.

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