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From the Mountain Press - January 7 -  Gatlinburg priest suspended, charged with sexual assault

Gatlinburg priest suspended, charged with sexual assault
  • By JEFF FARRELL Staff Writer
  • Jan 7, 2022 Updated Feb 14, 2022
  • GATLINBURG — The priest of St. Mary’s Catholic Church is facing charges of sexual battery by an authority figure over allegations he assaulted a woman in February 2020.


Father Antony Devassey Punnackal was arrested Wednesday after a Sevier County grand jury returned a presentment charging him with one count of sexual battery and one count of sexual battery by an authority figure.


The documents indicate the incidents happened between Feb. 3 and Feb. 17, 2020, and that the victim was a woman who “was, at the time of the offense, mentally defective.”


Gatlinburg Police Department declined to comment on the allegations, saying they are part of an ongoing investigation.

Punnackal was released from the jail Thursday after posting $20,000 bond.


He has served at St. Mary’s since 2014, but has been suspended since his arrest.