Blue Earth priest pleads guilty in sex abuse case

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WINONA, Minn. (AP) -- A Blue Earth-area priest has admitted to fondling a girl while he was attending dinner at her grandmother's home.

The Rev. Leo Koppala pleaded guilty Monday to second-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a victim under 13. He'll be sentenced March 31.

The Diocese of Winona says the 47-year-old Koppala came to the diocese in September 2008.

He spent time at the Church of the Resurrection in Rochester. In 2009, he was assigned to the Catholic Church of Saints Peter and Paul in Blue Earth and to St. Mary's in Winnebago.

He was charged last June and placed on leave. The diocese says he'll remain on leave until the court proceedings end. He'll then likely be deported to his native India.

Messages left with Koppala's attorney and prosecutors weren't immediately returned.