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Blue Earth Catholic Priest Accused Of Sexually Assaulting Girl

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A 47-year-old Blue Earth man, who is also a Catholic priest, has been charged with allegedly sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl, according to the Faribault County Attorney's Office.

Leo Koppala now faces second-degree criminal sexual conduct -- a felony -- in connection to the June 7 incident.

According to the criminal complaint, on June 8, Blue Earth Police Chief Tom Fletcher received a call that a 12-year-old had been sexually assaulted the evening before.

During an ensuing interview, the victim told police that she was at her grandmother's residence in Blue Earth spending the weekend when the assault happened.

Her grandmother invited Koppala over for supper and at one point in the evening, the victim went downstairs to watch television. Koppala later came down stairs, pulled the victim up from where she was sitting and told her that he was glad to be away from her grandmother. He then allegedly kissed the victim on the cheeks and lips and touched her breasts.

The victim said that Koppala also said that when she was done with school he wanted to come to her house so they could be free together and that he loved her, the complaint said.

When the grandmother was interviewed, she confirmed that Koppala had gone downstairs while she was on the phone. She said that when they both came upstairs, she could tell by the victim's demeanor that she was upset about something. After Koppala left, the victim told her what happened, the complaint said.

Chief Fletcher then interviewed Koppala, who admitted to kissing the victim on the cheeks and mouth. He also admitted to placing a hand on her chest but did not believe he touched her breasts. He also admitted that he told the victim they could be free together, but said that he meant something different.

If convicted of the charge, Koppala could face up to 25 years in prison and a $35,000 fine – or both.

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