Settlement reached in case involving priest

Local News

A personal injury lawsuit filed against a former priest at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Blue Earth and St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Winnebago has been settled.

In fact, an agreement in the case involving a female minor was reached more than one year ago in September 2015.

However, attorneys from both sides aren’t releasing any financial details and the court file has been sealed.

In June 2013, Father Leo Charles Koppala was arrested and charged with second-degree criminal conduct following an alleged incident on June 7 with an 11-year-old girl in Blue Earth.

Koppala, who was 47 years old at the time, was convicted in March 2014 and two months later deported to his native country of India.

According to court documents in Winona County, a civil suit was filed on April 28, 2014, against Koppala and the Diocese of Winona by a guardian of Doe 32.

Throughout the case proceedings Koppala did not attend any scheduling conferences because his exact whereabouts were unknown.

“I do not have contact information for Mr. Koppala,” says Thomas Braun, an attorney for the Diocese and Koppala. “However, I am aware that he’s living somewhere in the country of India.”

A hearing to consider a settlement was scheduled in August 2015, but attorneys for the plaintiff argued she should not be subjected to additional trauma and has good cause to waive an appearance.

“The minor plaintiff struggles with intrusive thoughts, anger and ruminative thinking,” the attorneys wrote in a letter to the court.

“It is our position that the minor plaintiff’s presence at the hearing will only subject her to increased emotional distress, exacerbating to her existing injuries.”

Judge Nancy Buytendorp approved the settlement on Sept. 1 and dismissed the case with prejudice on Oct. 9, 2015.

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