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Priest remains in jail

Diocese has yet to find a replacement

June 23, 2013
by Paula Gibbins - Register Staff Writer (pgibbins@faribaultcountyregister.com) , Faribault County Register

The Blue Earth Law Enforcement Center courtroom was filled on Monday, June 17. People wanted to see what would happen to Father Leo Koppala, 47, who was recently charged with criminal sexual conduct.

What happened was not what the defending attorney, Philip Elbert, was hoping for. He requested that the bail be set at a lower amount so it's more feasible for Koppala to pay it. But, Judge Douglas Richards did not feel he could make a decision on that until he could make a more informed decision relating to other aspects of the case.

The bail was previously set at $75,000 and Elbert's request was for $20,000.

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"We continue to add facts to the case," says county attorney Troy?Timmerman. "We request that he be kept in custody."

Another reason to keep Koppala in custody is because the courts need to look into the immigration laws to see what can and cannot be done.

Judge Richards stated that, for the time being, Koppala will remain in custody with the original bail amount still set, until those immigration matters are cleared up, at which point he will consider changing the bail amount.

Being a native of India and speaking English as a secondary language, Koppala requested an interpreter be present for the proceedings. The language of southern India that Koppala and the interpreter used is called Tamil. All dialogue was repeated to Koppala in his native tongue and all of his responses were translated for the court.

Elbert requested an omnibus hearing to contest the search warrant and see if Koppala's rights were violated.

The contested omnibus hearing is scheduled for July 8 from 10 a.m.-noon.

If he were to be released, Koppala is no longer allowed to live at the parsonage at Saint Peter and Paul Catholic Church. William and Felicia Hamlin offered to open their home to the priest if he is released.

In the meantime, an interim pastor has not been named to take over services at St. Peter and Paul Church.

"There has not been a new pastor assigned to the parishes as of today," says Joel Hennessy, spokesperson for the Diocese of Winona on Thursday, June 20. "But, there will be shortly."

 
 

 

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