WINONA, Minn. - A priest associated with the Diocese of Winona pleaded guilty in a sex abuse case.
Father Leo Koppala, 47, pleaded guilty Monday to second-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a victim under age 13. The priest has admitted to inappropriately touching a girl while attending dinner at her grandmother's house.
Koppala joined the Diocese of Winona in September 2008 and has been serving at a pair of churches about a little over two hours west of Winona. He was assigned to the Catholic Church of Saints Peter and Paul in Blue Earth and to St. Mary's in Winnebago.
He was charged and placed on leave in June 2013. The Diocese says he will remain on leave until his court proceedings are complete. He'll be sentenced on March 31. Then he will return to his Diocese in Nellore, India.
"Our hearts and prayers are with the victim of this case, as well as all of those who have suffered child sexual abuse," Diocese of Winona John M. Quinn said in a statement. "The Diocese has fully adopted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People (‘the Charter'), as promulgated by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The Diocese of Winona is committed to the protection of children and the safe environment of our parishes, schools and greater communities. We encourage anyone, or any organization, with information regarding the abuse or exploitation of children or young people to immediately report that information to law enforcement."
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