Blue Earth priest charged with criminal sexual conduct - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Blue Earth priest charged with criminal sexual conduct

Fr. Leo Koppala Fr. Leo Koppala

BLUE EARTH, Minn. (KTTC) -- A Blue Earth priest accused of having sexual contact with a young girl made his first court appearance Monday afternoon.

Fr. Leo Koppala, 47, a priest at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church, is charged with second-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Koppala was arrested at about 8:30 p.m. Saturday.

According to the criminal complaint, Koppala is accused of touching the victim on her lower back and breasts on Friday evening while he was at the family's home for dinner. The victim also told investigators he kissed her on the cheeks and mouth. He told her he loved her and wanted to be together after she was done with school. 

The county attorney says the female victim is under the age of 13 and the crime was committed at the girl's grandmother's house. 

According to the complaint, Koppala admitted to investigators he was at the home for dinner and while the grandmother was on the phone he went downstairs where the victim was watching television and kissed her. He says he placed his hand on her chest but says he does not believe he touched her breasts. Koppala also admitting to telling the child they could be free together but says he meant something different. 

Koppala is being held at the Faribault County Jail on a $75,000 bond. 

Faribault County Attorney Troy Timmerman says, "He is a citizen of another country and that's not as unique as you might think. We do frequently have people who are passing through whether it be on the interstate or even as migrant workers that commit crimes here but in his case we did ask that his passport be surrendered. I think that is just appropriate to do as he's a citizen of another country and if he should post bail we don't want him to be able to leave the country."

If convicted of the felony he could face 25 years in prison, a $35,000 fine or both

Koppala's next court appearance is on June 17 at 1:30 p.m.
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