- Joseph Jeyapaul accused of sexually assaulting Minnesota girl, 14, in 2004
- Living as fugitive in native India for past seven years, still serving as priest
- Will be extradited to U.S. to stand trial
By Beth Stebner
PUBLISHED: 08:57 EST, 20 March 2012 | UPDATED: 09:15 EST, 20 March 2012
A former Roman Catholic priest accused of sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl in Minnesota has been arrested in his native country of India, where he was a fugitive for the past several years.
The Rev Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul fled to southern India after he was accused of molesting Megan Peterson, now 22.
Ms Peterson came forward last fall to say she was abused by Jeyapaul in 2004 when she was seeking advice about becoming a nun.
Scroll down for video
The Rev. Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul appeared Monday in a New Delhi court and will be held in custody pending a formal U.S. request for his extradition, to be filed along with case evidence, government officials said.
But he won’t go to trial any time soon – processing the request could take up to three months.
Police detained Jeyapaul on Friday near the southern Indian town of Erode after Interpol issued an alert, police Subinspector Pugal Maran told the Associated Press.
Jeyapaul, 57, an Indian citizen, has denied molesting a Ms Peterson when he was working at the Blessed Sacrament Church in Greenbush, a Minnesota town near the Canadian border.
He returned to India in 2005 to visit his ailing mother, and was asked not to return to the Minnesota church after being accused of having an inappropriate relationship with another 16-year-old.
The criminal case relating to the 14-year-old was filed later. Jeyapaul never returned to the United States and has been a fugitive there ever since.
Vatican officials recommended Jeyapaul’s removal from the priesthood, but the local Indian bishop instead sentenced him to a year in a monastery through a canonical trial, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Jeyapaul was one of many foreign priests brought to the United States to help fill shortages in American parishes.
Ms Paterson told the paper she was shocked that Jeyapaul was arrested so quickly, following a March 11 interview she did with the Tribune.
‘I find it quite ironic that we did that interview and then a week later he is in handcuffs,’ Ms Peterson said.
‘I wasn’t expecting it to happen this fast.’
Click Below to view the video: