Catholic priest charged with sexually assaulting 11-year-old girl
Leo Charles Koppala, a 47-year-old priest at the Catholic Church of Saints Peter and Paul in Blue Earth, has been charged with sexual assault following an incident that occurred last Friday evening.
Koppala was a dinner guest at a Blue Earth home when he allegedly fondled an 11-year-old girl's breasts over her clothes, according to the girl's version of events. During a later conversation with police, Koppala acknowledged kissing the girl on the cheeks and mouth but said "he did not believe he touched her breasts."
The girl told police Koppala said "that when she was done with school he wanted to come to her house so they could be free together... [and] told her that he loved her."
Koppala "admitted that he told [the girl] that they could be free together but explained that he meant something different" than what the girl thought he did, the complaint says.
The two ended up alone in the basement after the girl's relative (later identified as the girl's grandma) excused herself to take a phone call. When they came back upstairs following the incident, the relative could tell the girl "was upset about something." She spilled the beans about what happened after Koppala left.
The Pioneer Press reports that Koppala is known for his fundraising work on behalf of orphans in his native India. The Diocese of Winona has placed him on administrative leave and he is barred from working on behalf of his ministry or living on any parish property while the case in pending.
Koppala has been charged with second-degree criminal sexual conduct and faces up to 25 years behind bars.
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