A 59-year-old priest, who has been accused of raping a minor in Minnesota in 2004 and then fleeing to India, may soon be extradited to the United States of America (USA).
A Delhi court has given its recommendation to the Centre to extradite Ooty-based reverend Joseph Jeyapaul so that he can stand trial on charge of “first degree criminal sexual conduct.”
Trial court judge Ajay Garg, who was requested by the ministry of external affairs to look whether Jeyapaul could be extradited to the USA, gave his nod to the extradition process clearing the way for the reverend to stand trial in Minnesota, USA.
According to US authorities, in 2004, Jeyapaul sexually abused a 14-year-old girl where he was a member of his parish The Blessed Sacramont Church in Minnesota. The priest had allegedly met the girl at a youth conference in 2004, and abused her for nearly a year till he left for India on August 28, 2005.
A year later in December 2006, the teenage victim filed a criminal complaint against him accusing him of sexual assault.
On February 1, 2011, the US embassy in New Delhi sent a diplomatic note to the MEA requesting extradition of Jeyapaul claiming that he was wanted to stand trial on charges of criminal sexual conduct.
The Embassy said Jeyapaul was charged with two counts of criminal sexual conduct and a district court of Minnesota has issued arrest warrant for him on December 28, 2010. It added that the charge against him carries a maximum punishment of 30 years in jail.
According to the extradition treaty between India and the US, an offence punishable with more than one year in jail is extraditable.
On receipt of the request, the MEA on March 8, 2011 approached the trial court for determining whether a prima facie case exists for Jeyapaul’s extradition.
Jeyapaul was as arrested on March 16, 2012 at Chimitahalli near Sathyamangalam in Erode district following the trial court’s order. He has since been lodged in Tihar jail.