An Indian catholic priest from Telangana was held in the United States for sexually abusing a teen, based on local news outlet.
The priest named Father John Praveen Kumar Itukulapati was deputed to serve in South Dakota for 10 years by the Holy Spirit Fathers congregation in Hyderabad.
At a time when the Catholic church is under scrutiny for sexual abuse by clergymen, an Indian priest has been arrested by the Rapid City police in South Dakota on charges of sexual contact with a minor.
Thirty eight year old priest served at the Holy Spirit Father congregation in Telangana before being deputed to serve abroad for 10 years in November 2017.
Though he began his deputation at the All Saints Church in Eagle Butte in South Dakota, he was shifted to the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Rapid City in June as the Parochial Vicar.
According to the result of an investigation conducted by the Rapid City Police and the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) began on September 30, according to reports, after the 16-year-old survivor came forward with a complaint.
Also, as per the survivor’s account, the priest had come into sexual contact with the child twice. According to local media reports from the US, this offence is a Class 3 felony which could lead to the imprisonment of the priest for 15 years and/or a fine of $30,000 every time the offence is committed.
The Rapid City Police Department, in its Facebook page, said that this is an ongoing and a ‘high priority investigation’.
The arrest comes days after another similar incident in the Church.
Bishop Franco Mulakkal, former Bishop of the Jalandhar Diocese, was arrested by the Kerala police on September 21 on rape charges made by a nun.
According to the nun’s account, Bishop Franco Mulakkal had sexually abused her multiple times between 2014 and 2016 in the Kuruvilangad convent in Kerala.
This is not the first time that church people were linked to sexual allegations.
In 2015, a Minnesota court convicted an Indian-origin priest, Joseph Jeyapaul, for sexually assaulting minors during his stint in the US.
Jeyapaul served as a priest in Crookston city in Minnesota in 2004-05 and was arrested in India in 2012.
The priest was extradited to the US on charges of sexual abuse and was convicted by the court. He was deported after his sentence and the Catholic church, with the Pope’s permission lifted the suspension that was placed on him.