Sexual Abuse Survivor Files Lawsuit Against Priest in India

Posted in Abuse at 3:24 pm by kevin

While sexual abuse scandals have already rocked religious groups, another story surfaced about the advocacy of a young woman from Minnesota trying to prevent a priest in India from abusing young children. Twenty-six year old, Megan Peterson, now living in Queens, filed a lawsuit against a diocese in India in her bid to stop the pedophile priest from harming children.

It was in April 2016 when the issue was reported online. At that time, she said that the suit will be filed on her behalf by her attorney, Jeff Anderson. What made this case unique and interesting is the fact that this is the first time a lawsuit is filed in a federal court against a diocese located in a foreign country such as India. The lawsuit claims that by reinstating the convicted priest to the ministry, the Diocese of Ootacamund is exposing the children to danger.

Peterson, herself, was a victim of Rev. Joseph Jeyapaul 11 years ago while the latter was then a priest in the Diocese of Crookston. It was in 2005, at the age of 14 when she was molested and sexually abused by Jeyapaul.


The Predicament

She was born and raised in Minnesota where she became an altar girl and an active member of the choir. According to Peterson, it was only within weeks when the priest raped her in the parish office. Her ordeal was followed with more sexual abuses which lasted for almost a year and Father Joseph Jeyapaul even had the boldness to blame her for these abuses, saying that it was her who made him do it.

The priest was with the diocese in Crookston City from 2004 to 2005 and aside from Peterson, there was another teenage girl who was also sexually abused by Jeyapaul. However, before a case was filed then, the priest already went back to India.

It was in 2012 when Jeyapaul was extradited to the United States to face the charges against him for sexually abusing the two girls but he was only tried for the rape of the other girl. The case about the abuse of Peterson was dropped as part of the plea agreement. Moreover, the priest was only sentenced to one year in prison, a sentence he quickly got over with since it included the period he was in jail during the trial. After serving his sentence, he was deported back to India and given a suspension of one year.

But what pushed Peterson to file a case against the diocese in India was when she learned in February that with the recommendation of the Bishop and the permission of Pope Francis, Jeyapaul was reinstated to the ministry in less than a year.

With the knowledge that this man will again do the same thing with other children and be active as a priest, Peterson made the move to file a lawsuit against the diocese and the bishop. She expressed her desire to save the children in India to suffer the same predicament she had.

In 2011, Peterson also sued the Diocese of Crookston and was awared $750,000. But the Minnesota woman said that it mattered more to her that Jeyapaul will not be able to harm children anymore.