The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

March 31, 2014

Blue Earth priest sentenced in abuse case

Rev. Koppala being deported to native India

BLUE EARTH — The Blue Earth-area priest who admitted to fondling a girl while attending dinner at her grandmother’s home was sentenced Monday in Faribault County District Court.

The Rev. Leo Koppala, 47, pleaded guilty to felony second-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a victim younger than 13.

Koppala received a stay of imposition on his charge Monday in court. He will likely not serve more time in jail because he was sentenced to 31 days, which he already served during the trial.

The stay of imposition will place him on probation with monitoring for 25 years. The terms of probation include requiring him to register as a sex offender, have no contact with anyone under 18 years old, pay restitution and undergo psychological-sexual evaluation. Faribault County Attorney Troy Timmerman said the victim and the victim’s family were satisfied with the sentence, particularly since Koppala faces deportation to his hometown in India.

Koppala was taken into Department of Homeland Security custody after the sentencing. He will remain in the department’s custody until the conclusion of his deportation proceedings.

The Diocese of Winona has had Koppala on administrative leave since June 10, 2013.

On Monday, the diocese had him permanently removed from priestly ministry with the diocese and terminated from any employment with it.

The diocese has submitted a full report to the Vatican Office of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which handles sex abuse cases and the start of defrocking procedures. The dioceses also has been working directly with the Diocese of Nellore, India, in regards to Koppala’s future as a Roman Catholic priest.

“Our hearts and prayers will continue to be with the victim of this case,” said Bishop John M. Quinn of the Winona Diocese.

Koppala was charged in June 2013 and the diocese put him on leave since the accusation. He served in the diocese starting in September 2008. He spent time at the Church of the Resurrection in Rochester. In 2009, he was assigned to the Catholic Church of St. Peter and Paul in Blue Earth and to St. Mary’s in Winnebago.

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