Local sex abuse victim stops priest from returning to ministry in India

A Minnesota woman has won a lawsuit settlement that bars a predator priest from the ministry in southern India.

A diocese there was returning to duty a priest who had been convicted of child sex abuse in Minnesota. Megan Peterson had been victimized by that priest, Father Joseph Jeyapaul, in 2004 when he served at her church in Greenbush, Minn.

When Peterson heard that Jeyapaul would be active in the church in India, Peterson sued the Indian diocese.

"I know what this man is capable of," she said. "Something had to be done to save the children in India that would be in harm's way."

The Indian diocese promised Jeyapaul will not return to the ministry and will not be put in a position with access to children. In addition, the church promised to provide yearly updates on his location. Peterson's attorney, Jeff Anderson, says he expects the priest will be defrocked.

Anderson said he and abuse victims are on the hunt for clergy who may abuse children again.

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Peterson says in 2011 she settled a civil lawsuit with the Crookston diocese, receiving $750,000.

Jeyapaul pleaded guilty last year to molesting a different girl when he was in Minnesota.

Under a plea deal, charges of molesting Peterson were dismissed.

Jeyapaul faced the abuse charges only after being extradited from his native India. He was sentenced to one year and one day in prison. That was time he had already served awaiting court proceedings. Jeyapaul was deported to India.