The sexual abuse nightmare within the Catholic Church is, apparently, ongoing, as this article from the New York Daily News reports.
When Megan Peterson was 14, she was raped and sexually assaulted — sometimes inside the church confessional booth — over the course of a year by her parish priest.
So the abuse survivor was astounded to learn her tormentor, the Rev. Joseph Jeyapaul, was reinstated earlier this month by Catholic Church officials after a suspension of roughly the same duration of her time as a victim.
“It’s very clear what side the Church is on and it’s not about child protection or about morality,” said Peterson, a 26-year-old artist who now lives in Queens. “The bottom line is that the Church is not protecting children.”
Peterson, the New York City coordinator for the advocacy group SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), charges the church gave a virtual green light for Jeyapaul to target children in his native India.
The reverend returned to his homeland late last year, when he also appealed for a return to his priestly duties. He was suspended for less than a full year.
Peterson said the ruling by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine move is an insult to her and all other survivors of clergy abuse.
“I thought I had seen everything but I was clearly mistaken,” she said. “I’m very hurt and very angry. Actions speak louder than words and this is a slap in the face.”
The Vatican did not respond to a request for comment.
The decision to lift the priest’s suspension was particularly painful given its proximity to Pope Francis’ recent intimation of a special place in hell for bishops who enable rather than report child-molesting clergymen.
“A bishop who transfers a priest of a parish when a case of pedophilia is discovered is an unconscientious man and the best thing he can do is to present his resignation,” Francis said after his six-day trip to Mexico.
Jeyapaul pleaded guilty to sexual assault of a different underage girl in a plea bargain deal where the charges in his abuse of Peterson were dropped.
Peterson sued the Diocese of Crookston, Minn., and won a $750,000 settlement in 2011.