Priest charged with molesting 11-year-old girl

Published 10:41am Tuesday, June 11, 2013

By Dan Linehan
Mankato Free Press

BLUE EARTH — A Blue Earth priest has been charged with molesting an 11-year-old girl.

Leo Charles Koppala, 47, was having dinner with the girl and her family member on Friday night. At one point, the girl went downstairs to watch television.

According to the criminal complaint, Koppala came downstairs, pulled her up from where she was sitting and kissed her on the cheeks and lips. He then put one hand on her lower back and the other on her chest, according to the complaint.

The girl said Koppala “moved his hand around on her chest touching her breasts,” according to the complaint. All of the touching was done over her clothes.

Koppala told the girl he loved her and when she was done with school he wanted to come to her house so they could be free together, according to the complaint.

The girl’s relative told police that the girl seemed upset after coming upstairs from the basement with Koppola.

A family member reported the incident to police on Saturday, and Koppola was interviewed that day. He admitted kissing the girl on her cheeks and mouth and touching her chest. But he denied touching her breasts. He also acknowledged he told the girl they could be free together, but explained that he meant something different, according to the complaint.

Koppola was arrested Saturday evening.

The Free Press was unable to reach Koppola’s public defender.

Koppola is a priest at Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Blue Earth, though his second-degree criminal sexual conduct charge has nothing to do with his position. Faribault County Attorney Troy Timmerman said charges for sex abuse by a person in a position of authority don’t appear to fit because Koppola was a guest at the house, not acting as a priest.