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Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul and Swami Nityananda: How Secularism handles the same issue differently!

June 17, 2015

Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul and Swami Nityananda: How Secularism handles the same issue differently!

Arrested-Police in southern India have arrested Rev. Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul, who is wanted in the U.S. on sexual assault charges

Arrested-Police in southern India have arrested Rev. Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul, who is wanted in the U.S. on sexual assault charges

Swami Nityananda is now known to many in India, because of the media that spread the video and connected details off and on many times in India. However, Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul, who has also been involved in a similar case, but more serious, has been played downed by the media in a casual way. Though only news has come out about Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul, nothing is known to Indians.  Under the guise of attending his sick mother, he came to India, but did not return to US, so US asked for deportation. Ironically, now, he is deported to India, after neutralizing his prison term, though convicted for the sexual charges[1]. The defrocked priest admitted to sexually abusing a teenage girl and then fleeing the country to avoid prosecution, but he would not serve any jail sentence, as he settled a $750,000 civil suit with his sex-victim as a part of a plea deal with prosecutors[2]. In Tamil, there is a comedy strip shown frequently in vernacular TV channel about one ‘Minor Kunju’ who was involved in raping women, but used to pay the mandatory fine of Rs. 5,000/- in advance, so that he could go for raping another. So, the comedian reportedly shot his ‘kunju’ meaning penis!

nithyananda-ranjitha News cutting

nithyananda-ranjitha News cutting

Accused Priest and tight-lipped Catholic authority (June 2015): Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul accepted guilty on June 19th 2015 to fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, a felony, in one of the two cases. The other case, in which he is charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, was pending[3] in the case of molesting a girl in US in 2005. He faces up to 15 years in prison at his sentencing scheduled for June 15, 2015. The case was dragged on for more than 10 years, because of the Catholic Church in India was obviously aiding and abetting with him. Even now, the Catholic Diocese to which priest Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul, accused of sexually abusing a minor girl in the US, is attached, is tight-lipped about the developments[4]. “We are yet to receive any such information. We can comment on this only after we get proper information,” maintained Diocese PRO Selvanathan, speaking to “Indian Express” over phone and also refused to comment on the stand of the diocese on the charges[5]. Really, when this has become an international story and the Madras Bishop was responding to the Roseau County Courthouse authorities and the Vatican defrocked him, Selvanathan decided to play safe.

Kunju minor, Niyananda. Joseph

Kunju minor, Niyananda. Joseph

Frivolous petition, dragging case in Madras (2013): In 2013, when Jeyapaul was arrested and jailed in Tihar, her sister filed an petition in the Madras High court. The Court on June 28. 2013 (Thursday) dismissed a habeas corpus petition seeking the release of a parish priest, who had allegedly sexually-abused a 14-year-old girl in the US, and who was now lodged in Tihar Jail in New Delhi[6]. A Division Bench comprising Justices V. Dhanapalan and C.T. Selvam passed the order on a petition by one P. Pushpavathy, challenging an order of the Ministry of External Affairs, of March 8, 2011, requesting the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Patiala House Courts, New Delhi, to inquire into the request for extradition of the petitioner’s brother, Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul, to the US. To facilitate the inquiry, an arrest warrant against Jeyapaul, who was wanted by the US authorities for alleged “criminal sexual conduct in the first degree”, under that country’s laws, was necessitated. The warrant was necessary as he was not available for the inquiry. The petitioner said Jeyapaul was incardinated to the Catholic Diocese of Ootacamund and was ordained a priest in May 1982. He served as Assistant Parish Priest in St. John De Britto Church, Sathyamangalam, Erode district, from 1982 to 1983 and became a parish priest in 1985.

Priesthood- Jeyapaul worked as a priest at Infant Jesus Church in India, but was banned from being around children

Priesthood- Jeyapaul worked as a priest at Infant Jesus Church in India, but was banned from being around children

On an invitation to serve at the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Greenbush, Roseau Country for three years, he left for USA in August 2004 but returned to India in August 2005, as his mother was critically ill. Under these circumstances, the MEA issued the impugned order. Following that, an application was filed before the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, for arresting Jeyapaul. The Interpol issued an alert after it was found that he was in India[7]. He was arrested on March 16, 2012 at Chimitahalli in Erode district and remanded to custody and lodged in Tihar Jail[8].

Captured- He was arrested in the Erode district, in the southern state of Tamil Nadu

Captured- He was arrested in the Erode district, in the southern state of Tamil Nadu

Hence, the present petition. Mr. Justice Dhanapalan said while the parish priest was in the US, he was alleged to have sexually-abused a 14-year-old girl. The fugitive accused had been arrested pursuant to a warrant issued by the magistrate. A reading of the MEA’s order made it clear that it was the Centre which made the request to the Additional CMM to inquire into the matter. The course adopted by the Ministry could not be termed ‘detention’, much less ‘illegal detention’. This was a matter which concerned countries under the treaty which provided for certain obligations on the extraditing country to look into, under the relevant provisions of the law. The procedure had been followed and the MEA’s order was in accordance with law, the Judge said.

Former parish- He had served at the Blessed Sacrament Church in Minnesota

Former parish- He had served at the Blessed Sacrament Church in Minnesota

The callous attitude of CBCI (2011-12): Father Babu Joseph of the CBCI said, “He (Jeyapaul) will certainly cooperate with the civil authorities (in US) inquiring into the matter in case there is further need for him to go to the US……We are taking the allegations against him (Jeyapaul) seriously…..already some administrative actions have been taken against him….He 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 been kept away from children and people,” he added. Jeyapaul had fled to southern India in September 2005 after he was accused of molesting the girl. Wanted in the US on sexual assault charges, he was arrested by Indian Police in March 2012.

Alleged victim- Megan Peterson -right- now 22, claims she was sexually assaulted by Jeyapaul when she was 14, she is pictured with attorney Jeff Anderson

Alleged victim- Megan Peterson -right- now 22, claims she was sexually assaulted by Jeyapaul when she was 14, she is pictured with attorney Jeff Anderson

Madras Catholic Church helping Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul (2010): Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul, facing charges of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl in Minnesota, United Sates, was on Tuesday (April.5 2010) asked by the Archbishop of Madras to return to the U.S. for further investigations. As the Diocese of Udhagamandalam, the home Diocese of Jeypaul, which oversees the priest of Indian origin, said it was probing the matter in detail. The Archbishop of Madras M. Chinnappa said he had spoken to the Bishop of Ootacamund on Tuesday to take action against the priest. Fr. Jeyapaul was currently staying in the hill town in Tamil Nadu. “I have asked the Bishop of Ooty to comply with the demands of the case. Jeyapaul must return to the U.S. if necessary for further investigations. He has to oblige. There is no way out,” Fr. Chinnappa said in Chennai. Prosecutors in Minnesota yesterday said they were trying to extradite 55-year-old Jeyapaul. Fr. Jeyapaul, however, had denied the sexual abuse allegations and reported to have said he has no plans to return to the U.S. to face the courts there[9]. 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[10].

Prosecuting- Attorney Jeff Anderson (left) speaks about Father Joseph Jeyapaul case in St. Paul

Prosecuting- Attorney Jeff Anderson (left) speaks about Father Joseph Jeyapaul case in St. Paul

USA requested extradition and India extradited (2007): In January 2007, a case was filed against him in the Roseau County Courthouse, Minnesota. Four years later, the US officials sent an extradition note to the Ministry of External Affairs, Indian government, which in turn asked the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate of Patiala House Courts, Delhi, to inquire the request and decide on its ‘extraditability’ based on the nature of offences. Based on a warrant issued by the Additional CMM, Jeyapaul was arrested from Erode district on March 16, 2012. His bail pleas and the habeas corpus petition filed by his sister Pushpavathy in the Madras High Court alleging ‘illegal detention’ were rejected, and Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul was extradited by the Indian Government to the US[11].

Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul - different faces

Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul – different faces

Wanted fugitive Bishop in Ooty enjoying life (2004-05): In a statement handed over to reporters, who had gone to meet Fr. Jeyapaul in Udhagamandalam, Bishop Fr. Amulraj of the Diocese said the matter had already been referred to the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI), the highest Catholic Organization in India for necessary direction. Fr. Amulraj earlier said Fr. Jeyapaul had gone to meet his advocate to Chennai regarding the cases, which came to limelight through the press. In the statement, Fr. Amulraj stated that it was true that the said priest was working in the Diocese of Crookstone in the State of Minnesota in the U.S. from September 2004 to August 2005. “Suddenly he had to rush back to India to see his ailing mother and he never returned to U.S. since then…………In the meantime some sexual abuse cases connected to Fr. Jeyapaul emerged and we conducted an enquiry into the matter……..As the above allegations could not be proved beyond doubt, he was placed under the direct supervision of the Bishop……..Now the same allegations have come up to limelight through the press, we are studying the matter in detail,” Amulraj said. People in and around the area are tight-lipped about the presence of Fr. Jeyapaul either in the Bishop’s house or in the Nilgiris, since he was instrumental in providing jobs, including temporary ones, to the poor and needy in 12 schools run by the Diocese, a worker in one of the schools said on the condition of anonymity[12]. The Vatican’s data clearly proves how the Ootacamund diocese behaved differently[13].

Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul

Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul

[1] http://www.cruxnow.com/church/2015/06/15/priest-gets-time-served-faces-deportation-in-sex-abuse-case/

[2] http://www.wdaz.com/news/minnesota/3766918-former-priest-sentenced-soon-deported-india

[3] http://www.grandforksherald.com/news/region/3750979-former-crookston-priest-files-notice-plead-guilty-sex-crime

[4] Express News Service, Can’t React Without Info, Says Diocese, Published: 05th June 2015 06:00 AM; Last Updated: 05th June 2015 04:47 AM

[5] http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil_nadu/Cant-React-Without-Info-Says-Diocese/2015/06/05/article2850049.ece

[6] The Hindu, High Court upholds arrest of parish priest in molestation case, Updated: June 28, 2013 03:16 IST

[7] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2117651/Joseph-Jeyapaul-Fugitive-priest-arrested-India-7-years-run-sexually-assaulted-girl.html

[8] http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/high-court-upholds-arrest-of-parish-priest-in-molestation-case/article4857554.ece?ref=relatedNews

[9] http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/indian-priest-accused-of-sexual-abuse-to-face-probe-in-us/article389682.ece?ref=relatedNews

[10] http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/accused-priest-extradited-from-india-to-us/article6610874.ece?ref=relatedNews

[11] http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil_nadu/Cant-React-Without-Info-Says-Diocese/2015/06/05/article2850049.ece

[12] The Hindu, Indian priest accused of sexual abuse to face probe in U.S., Updated: April 6, 2010 18:39 IST

[13] http://www.bishop-accountability.org/Vatican/Jeyapaul/

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