RAPID CITY, S.D. - A Catholic priest has been arrested for having sexual contact with a minor.
John Praveen, age 38, was arrested Tuesday on two counts of sexual contact with a child under the age of 16 after a joint investigation between the Rapid City Police Department and Pennington County Sheriff's Office.
The investigation began on Sunday, September 30 when a victim reported the incidents. Praveen, who has served as a temporary priest in the Rapid City area since summer of 2018, is accused of having sexual contact with the child on two occasions.
According to the Diocese of Rapid City, Praveen was assigned to All Saints Parish in Eagle Butte in November 2017 and reassigned to the Cathedral in June.
The Diocese released the following statement:
The Diocese of Rapid City became aware of allegations that a priest from India had sexual contact with a child under 16 years of age. Fr. John Praveen Itukulapati, a member of the Holy Spirit Fathers in India, has been serving in the Diocese since November 2017. The Diocese learned of this allegation from the Rapid City Police Department and the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office on Monday evening. The Diocese of Rapid City is fully cooperating with law enforcement in this ongoing investigation. Fr. Praveen has been arrested and will make his first court appearance tomorrow. Bishop Robert Gruss has also removed him from all ministry in the Diocese of Rapid City.
We encourage anyone who believes they might have had a similar experience to contact the authorities or the Victims Assistance Coordinator (605-209-3418). Our prayers and concerns go out to this the young person and the family, and all those who have suffered from any type of abuse.
- Most Rev. Robert D. Gruss