Ready to go to US to prove my innocence: Priest

Ready to go to US to prove my innocence: Priest

Ready to go to US to prove my innocence: Priest

The Most Rev. A. Almaraj of the Diocese of Ootacamund addresses the media at the Bishop House in Ooty, southern India, Tuesday, April 6, 2010. The bishop who oversees the Rev. Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul, charged with sexually assaulting a teenage parishioner in Minnesota, said he had overruled a Vatican recommendation that the accused priest be removed from the priesthood and applied his own lesser punishment. (AP

"This should help me prove my innocence," said 55-year-old Jeyapaul. Prosecutors in Minnesota said they were trying to extradite him to the US. Jeyepaul had stated earlier that he has no plans to return to the US to face the courts there.

Jeyapaul has denied the sexual abuse allegations, terming them as "baseless and false" and that he was ready to face any inquiry. He suspected that there were some "ulterior motives" behind the allegations. He is currently staying in the hill town of Ooty.

Fr Amalraj, the Bishop of Udhagamandalam in Tamil Nadu's Nilgiris district, had said yesterday that Jeyapaul had gone to Chennai to discuss the issue with advocates.
Archbishop of Madras-Mylapore Rev Fr Malayappan Chinnappa has said the priest should face the investigations in the US and there was no way out.

The Diocese of Udhagamandalam, the home Diocese of Jeyapaul which oversees the priest of Indian origin, said it was probing the matter in detail.

According to Amalraj, the matter has already been referred to the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI), the highest Catholic Organisation in the country, for necessary direction.

Jeyapaul had worked in the Diocese of Crookstone in the State of Minnesota from September 2004 to August 2005 but returned to India to see his ailing mother, according to Amalraj, who said their earlier inquiry into some sexual abuse cases had shown that the allegations could not be proved beyond doubt.

"I have asked the Bishop of Ooty to comply with the demands of the case. Jeyapaul must return to the US if necessary for further investigations. He has to oblige. There is no way out," Chinnappa said in Chennai.

Father Babu Joseph of the CBCI said, "he(Jeyapaul) will certainly cooperate with the civil authorities (in the US) inquiring into the matter".

"We are taking the allegations against him(Jeyapaul) seriously," Joseph said, adding "already some administrative actions have been taken against him."

Jeyapaul has not been assigned any parish or any pastor work. On the contrary he has been asked to stay in the Bishop's house and help out in his office work...He has also been kept away from children and people," he added.