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Priest faces sex charge

June 14, 2013
Jodelle Greiner - Sentinel Staff Writer , Fairmont Sentinel

BLUE EARTH - Father Leo Charles Koppala, 47, of Blue Earth, has been charged with second-degree criminal sexual conduct and will face an initial court appearance 1:30 p.m. Monday.

The charges stem from an incident June 7 in which Koppala allegedly engaged in sexual conduct with a child under 13 years of age, with the defendant being more than 36 months older than the child. Maximum sentence for the felony charges is 25 years in prison and a $35,000 fine.

Koppala, the priest at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Blue Earth, is being held in the Faribault County Jail.

Previous news reports have indicated the child is an 11-year-old girl. The statement of probable cause released by Faribault County has the child's age and name redacted, as well as the name of the adult looking after the child and the location of the incident.

According to the statement of probable cause:

On June 8, Blue Earth Police received a report of a child having been sexually assaulted the previous evening.

During a police interview, the child said that on June 7, Koppala was invited over for supper at the location where the child was staying.

The child went downstairs to watch television. Koppala later came downstairs and pulled the child up from where the child was sitting. The child said Koppala said he was glad to have gotten away from the adult.

Koppala then kissed the child on the cheeks and lips. The child said Koppala put one hand on the child's lower back and the other hand on the child's chest. The child said Koppala moved his hand around on the child's chest, touching the child's breasts. Koppala told the child that when the child was done with school, he wanted to come to the child's house so they could be free together. Koppala told the child that he loved the child.

The adult in the house also was interviewed. The adult confirmed Koppala had been invited over for supper and, at one point during the evening, the adult was on a phone call. It was at this time that Koppala went into the basement where the child was.

A short while later, the child came upstairs, followed by Koppala. The adult said it was possible by the child's demeanor to tell the child was upset about something.

After Koppala left, the child told the adult what had happened.

Police then interviewed Koppala. He acknowledged he had supper with the adult and child. He admitted that when the adult was on the phone, he went downstairs to where the child was. He agreed he had kissed the child on the cheeks and mouth. He admitted to placing his hand on the child's chest, but did not believe he touched the child's breasts. Koppala admitted he told the child they could be free together, but said he meant something different.

 
 

 

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