Sexual abuse survivor files lawsuit to protect children from priest in India

- A Minnesota woman who was sexually abused by her priest filed a first of its kind lawsuit against a diocese in India to keep him from abusing other children.

Attorney Jeff Anderson believes this is the first federal nuisance suit ever filed against a foreign diocese, and the repercussions could be felt around the world.

For a decade, Megan Peterson has tried to stop Father Joseph Jeyapaul from abusing other children.

"It was within a couple of weeks in Greenbush, Minnesota when he raped me and that continued for the next 11 weeks," Peterson said.

Now, she's finally achieved her goal.

"Its empowering. I know that I've got my voice back. I'm not the suicidal teenaged girl," Peterson said.

Peterson was just 14 years old when Jeyapaul sexually assaulted her when he was a priest in the Diocese of Crookston in 2005.

By the time she told anyone what happened, Jeyapaul had returned to his native India, where he continued to work as a priest.

A couple of years ago, Jeyapaul was extradited back to the United States where he plead guilty to sexually abusing another underage girl.

But, criminal charges in Peterson's case were dropped as part of a plea agreement.

Jeyapaul was sentenced to a year in prison and deported back to India, but earlier this year Peterson got word the diocese there lifted his suspension, allowing him to return to ministry.

So, she filed a lawsuit against the Ootacamund Diocese and bishop to stop it.

"I cannot in good conscience allow that to happen. I know what this man is capable of," Peterson said. "Something had to be done to save the children of India that would be in harm's way."

As part of a settlement, Jeyapaul will not be allowed to return to duty after all or work with children and the diocese will also tell Peterson where Jeyapaul is living and what he is doing every year.

"I want survivors to know there is hope. A way to seek another form of justice. We can't get back the years we lost when we were abused but we can take some of our power back by speaking and moving forward," Peterson said.

Peterson successfully sued the Diocese of Crookston for $750,000 five years ago. But, she says stopping Jeyapaul from working with kids again means much more.

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