Alleged sex abuse victim speaks out after settlement

Jeffrey Anderson, Megan Peterson
Megan Peterson, right, says she was sexually abused by a Catholic priest in northern Minnesota when she was 14. She has won a settlement from the Crookston Diocese and says she'd like to see Rev. Joseph Jeyapaul extradited from his native India to face justice. Her attorney, Jeffrey Anderson, stood beside her and announced the settlement.
MPR Photo/Tim Nelson

A Thief River Falls woman said Tuesday she was speaking out after winning a settlement with the Catholic Diocese of Crookston for abuse by a priest in 2004.

Megan Peterson said she was an aspiring nun when Rev. Joseph Jeyapaul sexually assaulted her. She said it happened when she was 14, at churches in Middle River and Greenbush.

Peterson won a $750,000 settlement with the diocese. The agreement includes what Peterson calls protections for other kids, like mandatory employment screening, and a warning to a diocese in the priest's native India. He has denied the abuse from India, where he's serving as a priest.

"I think it's really important that this is still happening, and that he is still in ministry, and that kids are still at risk," Peterson said.

Jeyepaul faces criminal sexual conduct charges in Roseau County. Peterson said she's ready to tell her story in court.

"I'm terrified, but I'm ready to do it," Peterson said. "But if that's the way that's going to get him out of ministry and behind bars, I would love to see him in handcuffs one day."

Peterson's attorney, Jeffrey Anderson, said at least one more girl reported similar abuse by Jeyapaul. Roseau County attorney Karen Foss said her office has made a request to have him extradited back to the U.S.

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