At least 32 Roman Catholic priests have fled the country to avoid prosecution since 1985 and only five have returned to face trial, reports the Chicago Tribune.
Most of the priests that left were wanted for such serious accusations as alleged sexual abuse or assault charges, yet the courts have proven ineffective at extraditing the clerics in a timely matter. At times the process of extradition has taken so long that prosecutions have dropped the case entirely. (Read The Full Story In The Chicago Tribute)
One glaring example is the case of Rev. Raju Policetti, a priest who fled to India in 2002 upon being charged with sexual assault allegations by a 16-year old girl. The alleged victim came out last week saying she no longer wished to pursue the charges against Policetti, bringing a nearly decade long attempt to extradite him, to an abrupt end.
Though Policetti has since been defrocked by the Vatican, a grave yet rare occurrence, some sources say it was the Chicago Archdiocese original delay in reporting Policetti's case which gave him the needed time to plan an escape.
After 7 years on the run, another fugitive priest, Joseph Jeyapaul, who was accused of raping two teenage girls while serving a church in Minnesota, was arrested in India this past March. However, Jeyapaul continues to fight his extradition from India.
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