A Catholic priest allegedly involved in child abuse cases in the United State was arrested from Tamil Nadu in southern India, police said today.
A police team last evening traced Fr. Joseph Palanivel Jeyapaul in a parish near Erode that comes under Ootacamund, his mother diocese.
The police today produced him in the Erode Judicial Magistrate Court that ordered that he be handed over to Interpol officials in New Delhi.
Interpol, an organization that facilitates international police cooperation, has been on the lookout for the 57-year-old priest for the past five years.
Fr. Jeyapaul had gone to the States in 2004 and for a year worked in a children’s care home under Crookston diocese, Minnesota.
Two teenage girls there accused him of sexually molesting them.
Though a case was registered in the US in 2005, the priest returned to India in the same year.
The US police hand over the case to the Interpol that issued an arrest warrant against the priest.
It also informed the Tamil Nadu Police to trace and arrest him.
A police team led by Erode Superintendent of Police S Panneerselvam found him serving as an assistant at Simmittihalli in Thalawady area.
Fr. Jeyapaul has repeatedly denied the charges.
He has repeatedly told reporters that he was innocent and that he would not resist his extradition to the United States to face the charges since he wanted to clear his name.
The case also dragged even the Vatican into it.
Some groups in the States cited documents to allege that the Holy See had aided the priest to escape to India.
According to them, Bishop Victor Balke of Crookston had complained to the Vatican against the accused priest, but it took no disciplinary action.
In another development September 2011, Crookston diocese decided not to fight the case and settle the case paying US$750,000 to the victims.
Along with the sum of money, the diocese agreed to post the Indian priest’s picture and information about the case on its website. It also promised to reach out to and work with other potential victims of the priest.