Priest on the lam in assault of Minnesota girl arrested in India

March 21, 2012

Chicago Tribune on March 20, 2012 released the following:

Alleged victim says she’d still testify against him if he’s extradited

By David Jackson and Gary Marx, Chicago Tribune reporters

A fugitive Roman Catholic priest has been arrested in India after seven years on the run from charges that he sexually assaulted a 14-year-old Minnesota girl who sought his advice about becoming a nun.

The Rev. Joseph Jeyapaul’s case was included in a March 11 story in the Tribune. His alleged victim, Megan Peterson, who is now 22, said in an interview Monday that she was taken off guard by the arrest after so many years of waiting.

“I find it quite ironic that we did that interview and then a week later he is in handcuffs,” Peterson said. “I wasn’t expecting it to happen this fast.”

Peterson said she was still firmly committed to testifying against Jeyapaul if he is extradited to Minnesota to face trial. “I am ready — it’s about time,” she said. “If my voice can help, then I’ll be there.”

The Tribune does not usually name victims of sexual abuse, but Peterson has chosen to speak publicly about her allegations, saying she hopes it will help others.

In the past, Jeyapaul has asserted his innocence and continued to serve as a priest in India, where he was prohibited from direct contact with children.

He was arrested Friday and is being held pending a formal U.S. request for his extradition, to be filed in New Delhi, The Associated Press reported.

In Minnesota, Roseau County Attorney Karen Foss said she had little more information. The U.S. Justice Department declined comment Monday, as did the Crookston Diocese in Minnesota.

Jeyapaul is one of at least 32 Roman Catholic priests nationwide who, the Tribune found, have fled to foreign countries since 1985 while facing criminal charges or being investigated over allegations that they sexually assaulted or abused youths in the United States. Only five of them have been returned to the U.S. to face trial.

Like many other international fugitives traced by the Tribune as part of its “Fugitives From Justice” investigation, priests accused of sexual misconduct often returned to their hometowns and did little to conceal their identities or whereabouts, the newspaper found.

Efforts to extradite another priest who fled to his native India, the Rev. Sleeva Raju Policetti, have dragged on for nearly a decade. Policetti was charged in 2002 with 20 counts of criminal sexual assault and abuse of a 16-year-old Chicago girl, though the charges are now in jeopardy because a lawyer for the alleged victim has indicated she may not want to pursue prosecution.

The potential end to that case offers an example of how an opaque and slow-moving international extradition system can derail justice, leaving suspects accused of serious crimes free when they find haven in foreign countries.

In the Jeyapaul case, Peterson said she was 14 and had just started high school when he came to her church sometime in fall 2004. “I met him very briefly,” she said.

Peterson said she would go to church in the mornings to pray, and Jeyapaul expressed interest in a book she was reading.

“I didn’t know him that well, but I trusted him with him being a priest,” she said. “The abuse happened quite fast.

“I (would) be surprised if there weren’t more people in India who were affected by his actions. I hope that justice will prevail, and we get him back to the United States and get him away from vulnerable kids.””

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
International Extradition Lawyers Videos:

International Extradition – When the FBI Seeks Extradition

International Extradition – Wire Transfer – Email – Telephone Call

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We previously discussed the extradition treaty between the United States and India here.

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To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Law officials map out strategy to catch more fugitives

January 13, 2012

Chicago Tribune on January 12, 2012 released the following:

“Federal, state, local agencies vow to work more closely together

By David Jackson and Gary Marx, Chicago Tribune reporters

At a 90-minute closed-door meeting Thursday, top federal, state and local law enforcement officials laid out plans to improve the government’s faltering efforts to apprehend violent fugitives who cross U.S. borders to evade justice in Illinois.

The officials from the Justice Department and various northern Illinois agencies pledged to more closely coordinate their international fugitive apprehension programs, better manage their mounting caseloads and train local prosecutors and police in the often-complex and lengthy extradition process.

“There’s a feeling that this is a growing problem, an expensive problem and a large challenge to our system of justice,” said U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, who convened the meeting and spoke to reporters afterward. “I think the response at the table was extremely positive at all levels.”

Attending the working session with Durbin were U.S. Deputy Attorney General James Cole — the No. 2 official in the Justice Department — as well as U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, the Chicago heads of the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service, and Timothy Williams, director of Interpol in Washington.

The local officials included Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, the state’s attorneys from Cook, DuPage and Will counties, representatives from the Illinois attorney general’s office, the Chicago Police Department and the Illinois State Police.

Durbin called together those officials in response to a recent investigative series by the Chicago Tribune that found dangerous criminals were able to cross the border and remain at large because of an astonishing lack of coordination among Justice Department officials, county prosecutors and local police; a failure by these agencies to keep track of their cases; and inexplicable, years-long delays.

After Thursday’s closed-door meeting, Durbin announced that Fitzgerald would train Illinois law enforcement agencies on the extradition system at three upcoming seminars in Chicago, Springfield and a third location outside Chicago.

Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow later said through a spokesman that his office would “take full advantage” of the sessions and send “multiple attorneys.”

Durbin also urged county criminal court judges to set higher bonds for violent criminals who present flight risks — a weakness pointed out in the series.

And he endorsed a bill introduced by Illinois lawmakers that will make it possible to prosecute close family members for aiding or harboring a fugitive, another loophole highlighted by one article in the series. Prosecutors said the reform would help them locate fugitives and bring them to justice.

But Durbin did express frustration with significant hurdles that remain. Local prosecutors sometimes find it prohibitively expensive to prepare and translate the extensive legal paperwork needed to request a fugitive’s arrest and extradition from a foreign government. “We’re talking about thousands of dollars,” Durbin said.

Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, who noted that her office has faced recent budget and staff cuts, added that “the cost that really is laid on local prosecutors is enormous.”

Another issue hampering extraditions is continued lack of cooperation between the lead federal investigative agencies: The U.S. Marshals Service is the primary investigative agency and handles about 60 percent of international fugitive pursuits, but the FBI also plays a major role, along with the Drug Enforcement Administration and other agencies. “It appears there is still some stovepipe culture in the federal agencies,” Durbin said.

Dart said outside the meeting that Justice Department officials need to lay out clear directives showing local officials which of the myriad federal agencies they should deal with when they have evidence that a fugitive has crossed the border.

“Everybody needs to get their act together,” Dart said. Right now, he said, the sheriffs “can go to the FBI or the U.S. marshals — but there’s no rhyme or reason.”

While the officials at Thursday’s meeting focused on international fugitive apprehension problems in northern Illinois, Durbin noted afterward that a number of federal officials have told him there was a higher level of cooperation and effectiveness here than in many other parts of the country.

“Illinois is not the worst situation in the country,” Durbin said. “This is a challenge across the nation.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
International Extradition Lawyers Videos:

International Extradition – When the FBI Seeks Extradition

International Extradition – Wire Transfer – Email – Telephone Call

————————————————————–

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.