Blue Earth priest charged in sex case involving 11-year-old girl


A Blue Earth priest has been charged with second-degree criminal sexual conduct in a case involving an 11-year-old girl, the Pioneer Press reports.

Blue Earth police on Saturday night took Leo Charles Koppala, 47, into custody. Koppala, of the Catholic Church of Saints Peter and Paul in Blue Earth, raises money for orphans in his native India, the Pioneer Press reports.

The charges stem from a Friday night incident in which Koppala had been invited to the home of a relative of the girl, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday in Faribault County District Court. The complaint says Koppala is accused of kissing the girl and fondling her breasts in the basement of the home, the Pioneer Press reports.

"He agreed that he had kissed (the girl) on the cheeks and mouth. He admitted to placing his hand on her chest but did not believe he touched her breasts," the complaint said.

WCCO reports that the girl said that Koppala also said that when she was done with school he wanted to come to her house so they "could be free together" and that he loved her, the complaint said.

The Diocese of Winona issued a statement noting that Koppala had been placed on administrative leave "in accordance with the diocesan policy for the protection of minors."

Koppala seeks money for work in India on a website called "Orphan and Poor Children Education."

Bail was set at $75,000 and he remained jailed Monday, the Mankato Free Press reports. Koppala's next court appearance is set for June 18, the Free Press reports.

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