Catholic priest John Praveen Kumar, who was arrested by the Rapid City police in South Dakota, USA, on charges of sexually abusing a minor, has been sentenced to 6 years of imprisonment. He was arrested in October after a complaint was given to the Rapid City police by the 16-year-old survivor, who said that John had sexually abused her twice.
As part of a plea deal, these charges were dropped after John pleaded guilty in February, to touching another minor girl inappropriately.
Following this, as per local media reports, at the hearing on Friday, Judge Steven Mandel passed the sentence. While the prosecutors had asked for a maximum of one year in prison, the judge deemed that this was “not adequate” for the man’s crime and proceeded to sentence him to 6 years in prison, minus the 178 days of time that he had already served. He will be eligible for parole after three years. If parole is granted, the parole board could appeal to have him deported to India.
38-year-old John Praveen Kumar Itukulapati had served at the Holy Spirit Father congregation in Telangana before he was sent abroad in November 2017 to serve for 10 years. Though he began his service at the All Saints Church in Eagle Butte in South Dakota, he was later shifted to the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in South Dakota where he served as the Parochial Vicar.
“We suffered a profound sense of abandonment by our Church for several months due to lack of outreach, lack of response to our expressed needs for her, lack of fervor in solving the problems and improving procedures. We looked to our Church for comfort, correction of the lies his actions taught her and direct care of her soul. Unfortunately, despite nice public statements of ministering and care, that was not her experience,” said the victim’s mother in a statement after the judgement was passed.