NJ priest convicted of groping woman, acquitted of molesting her children

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TOMS RIVER, N.J. (AP) — A Catholic priest has been convicted of groping a woman, but was acquitted of charges that he molested her two children.

The Asbury Park Press reports that Marukudiyil Velan was convicted by a jury on Wednesday of criminal sexual contact against the woman. He was acquitted of sexual assault charges involving the woman’s then 5-year-old daughter and then 13-year-old son.

Velan’s attorney, S. Karl Mohel, says he is unlikely to face prison time. The crime carries a maximum penalty of 18 months in prison, but is not a Megan’s Law offense.

The boy and his mother testified that Velan groped them at their home, but then went out for pizza. Mohel argued that the family lied to collect money in a lawsuit against Velan and the church.