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Prosecutors Asked To Seek Extradition of Priest From Sri Lanka

May 22, 2002 | AP

Police have asked state prosecutors to seek the extradition of a fugitive priest from Sri Lanka who was charged 11 years ago with sexually abusing a teen-age boy.

It is believed that Father Tilak Jayawardene returned to his native Sri Lanka after being asked in December 1990 to surrender.

Police made the extradition request May 9 after a reporter from the Los Angeles Times questioned police about their efforts to locate the fugitive, said Barbara Moore, chief of the district attorney's extradition unit.

Jayawardene, who was ordained in Sri Lanka, had worked at Incarnation Church in Glendale, a Los Angeles suburb, as associate pastor from 1987 to December 1990, when he disappeared during a police investigation. Authorities said Jayawardene vanished after a police detective told his attorney there was probable cause for his arrest and he should surrender.

Authorities charged him in January 1991 with six counts of oral copulation involving a 17-year-old boy. The incidents allegedly occurred in 1990 in the priest's bedroom at the Glendale church rectory and once in the youth's home, prosecutors said.

Officials said the alleged victim was working at the church and wanted to attend seminary.

A specially assigned prosecutor is reviewing the request, which is likely to be approved because Sri Lanka signed a new extradition treaty with the United States in 1999, Moore said.

Cardinal Roger M. Mahony said he recently wrote to church officials in Sri Lanka, requesting they return the priest to Los Angeles. The cardinal said he sent the letter after archdiocese officials spoke with Glendale police about the case.

Mahony said he also sent a copy of the letter to the Vatican. Local church officials do not know the priest's whereabouts and do not know of other victims, said archdiocese spokesman Tod Tamberg.

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