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Priest posts bail

Computer files being searched

July 14, 2013
by Paula Gibbins - Register Staff Writer (pgibbins@faribaultcountyregister.com) , Faribault County Register

The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) has unlocked files on Father Leo Charles Koppala's computer. Over the next week, those files will be searched for acts of misconduct.

Koppala, a 47-year-old priest who served the parishes of St. Peter and Paul Church in Blue Earth and St. Mary's in Winnebago, was charged with criminal sexual misconduct against an 11-year-old girl for an incident that allegedly occurred on Friday, June 7.

Philip Elbert, Koppala's appointed attorney, made a request at a contested omnibus hearing on Monday, July 8, to suppress evidence obtained from the search warrant. He wanted this as a penalty because the prosecution failed to present documentation to him as of 1:30 p.m. the day of the hearing.

Elbert also requested suppression of Koppala's statement given to the police.

The reason for that was because only a transcript was given instead of the audio tape as well.

County Attorney Troy Timmerman states that the transcript has been provided and they will provide the audio file.

Timmerman assured the defense that once the information is submitted from the Sheriff's Department, then disclosures will be made.

"A continuance may be appropriate," said Timmerman. "This case has been growing since it was filed."

He clarified that no victims have come forward, but instead, there have been concerns brought forward after the charges were made.

The reason Timmerman mentioned a continuance is because of the locked files on Koppala's computer.

"The BCA was able to unlock the computer files from Mr. Koppala's computer," said Timmerman at the Monday hearing. "We do not know what those files contain. The question is why were there locked files??But, there are any number of reasons for that."

He went on to say that they could be nothing, or they could be forms of misconduct and more charges may be filed with the court.

If more charges are added, a continuance of the current case would keep all of the files together in one case instead of having to hold another omnibus hearing later on to address the new issues.

"It makes sense to do it all at once," said Timmerman.

In addition to the newly unlocked files, there were also telephone conversations Koppala had while in custody in his native language of Tamil Koppala is from India. Those conversations were recorded and now need translation into English.

After hearing both sides, Judge Douglas Richards denied Elbert's request for the suppression of the warrant.

Also, since so little time had elapsed since the case was first brought to court, Richards approved the request for a continuance.

Elbert then requested for the second time it was first requested at the June 17 court appearance to reduce bail from $75,000 to $20,000. Elbert assured the judge that Koppala had a place to stay were he to be released on bail.

At that request, Timmerman spoke up and said, "The state opposes the request. We believe the bail is appropriate as it is set."

Timmerman emphasized that if anything were to be found on the computer files, more charges could be filed.

"The court finds the original bail as set is reasonable. It denies the request to reduce bail," stated Richards.

The files found on Koppala's computer will be viewed over the next week. A conference with the counsel is set for July 16 to see the progress on determining what is in the files.

Despite the bail remaining at $75,000, Koppala was released on bail from the county jail on the evening of July 8. A bail bondsman took care of the payment.

 
 

 

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