Top Vatican officials in the U.S., India and the Vatican’s own Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, knew, since 2006, about the threat Fr. Jeyapaul posed to minors, after he was charged with sexual abuse of a 14-year-old girl in the Diocese of Crookston, Minnesota. For six years prosecutors have been working to extradite the Indian priest to face charges in Minnesota. Finally, Indian police arrested Fr. Jeyapaul last Friday in Erode, India, after Interpol alerted the authorities of his whereabouts.
Jeyapaul’s case highlights the Vatican’s continued policy of covering for predator priests. Armed with knowledge about dangerous offender priests, Vatican officials and bishops throughout the world choose to place children’s safety second to the avoidance of scandal. In Jeyapaul’s case, the Vatican knew he was in India, knew that he was working as a priest, and knew that he had access to vulnerable children, yet failed to cooperate with international authorities to hold him criminally accountable.
The Chicago Tribune reports that there are at least 32 known priests who have fled to foreign countries after facing criminal charges or investigations for child sexual abuse in the U.S. Only five of those 32 have returned to the U.S. to face trial. Without a doubt, the Vatican has a serious, ongoing problem when it comes to the covert movement of predatory priests.
We applaud Jeyapaul survivor Megan Peterson for her courage and persistence in fighting for child protection. We have been honored to walk with Megan as she’s fostered courage and found her voice. Speaking loudly and speaking often, Megan has shared her story of abuse and has been featured in news stories worldwide. Her efforts have no doubt helped raise attention around Jeyapaul, and contributed to his arrest. We now await Jeyapaul’s return to the U.S. and a chance for Megan, on behalf of all survivors, to seek justice and healing.