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Priest Pleads Guilty to Sex Abuse, Awaits Deportation to India

Updated: 03/18/2014 11:15 AM
Created: 03/18/2014 10:41 AM KAALtv.com

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- A Catholic priest in Blue Earth accused of sexually assaulting an 11-year-old girl, has plead guilty.

Rev. Leo Charles Koppala went to the girl's grandmother's house Friday, June 7 - a day before the girl's 12th birthday, according to a criminal complaint against Koppala.

He's a missionary from India who worked at Resurrection Parish in Rochester before joining the Blue Earth church in 2009.

When the grandmother left Koppala to answer a phone call, Koppala reportedly went downstairs where the girl was watching TV. He kissed the girl on the cheeks and the lips, the complaint said. He also touched the girl's chest and lower back.

Koppala told the girl that he wanted to go to her house when she was done with school so they could be free together, the charge said. Koppala also said he loved her.

The grandmother told police that she had invited Koppala for dinner. At some point in the night when she went to answer a phone call, Koppala went downstairs with the girl, the complaint said.

The girl appeared upset and her demeanor had changed, the grandmother told police. After Koppala left, the girl told her grandmother what had happened, the charge said.

Koppala told police that he kissed the girl on the cheeks and mouth, the complaint said. He also told officers that he touched her chest, but he said he didn't believe he touched her breasts.

Koppala said he told the girl they could be free together, but explained that he meant something different, the complaint said.

Koppala has been charged in Faribault County District Court with second-degree criminal sexual conduct. Click here to read the criminal complaint.

Blue Earth is south of Mankato.

Koppala heads the fundraising program Orphan and Poor Children Education, which reportedly helps children in the Nellore and Prakasam District of India. Donors can sponsor a child for $40 a month, according to the website.

The Diocese of Winona place Fr. Koppala on administrative leave last June.  It says following his criminal proceedings, he will be deported back to the Diocese of Nellore in India.  

ABC 6 News has learned that upon being placed on administrative leave, the Diocese of Winona file a report with the Vatican and copied Fr. Koppala's Bishop and home diocese.  The process to remove Koppala from the ministry, known as laicization, is now up to the Vatican.

Rev. Leo Charles Koppala, 47, of Blue Earth.
Faribault County Sheriff's Office