South Dakota Priest Pleads Guilty to Touching Girl
A Catholic priest in the Rapid City diocese who had been charged with sexually assaulting a minor has pleaded guilty.
Father John Praveen, 38, also know as John Praveen Kumar Itukulapat, has pled guilty to sexual contact with a child under the age of 16.
A plea agreement was reached Tuesday, February 5th in Seventh Circuit Court in Pennington County in western South Dakota. In exchange for that plea, prosecutors are dropping a second sexual contact charge.
Praveen was accused of having sexual contact with a 13-year-old girl in September 2018. Praveen admitted to touching the girl's breasts over her clothing. He faces up to 15 years in prison. Sentencing will be in April.
According to KOTA TV a statement was released by the Diocese of Rapid City that reads: "This kind of abuse by a member of the clergy or anyone is unconscionable and should never happen. We remain deeply saddened by these events. The diocese will continue to offer our assistance to the victim and the victim's family. We are grateful that the legal process that has led to this revelation of the truth. Our hope is that this decision and the subsequent sentencing will begin the process of healing for those involved. We will continue to pray for the victim, the victim's family and all victims of sexual abuse as well as Father Praveen."