Diocese of Rapid City issues statement following priest’s sentencing

RAPID CITY, S.D. — The Diocese of Rapid City released a statement following the sentencing of John Praveen earlier today.

The statement, issued by Bishop Robert Gruss, apologizes to the young girl that Praveen had sexual contact with and her family.

“I once again offer my apologies to the victim and her family. … Only those who have been victims of abuse of any kind can understand the trauma,” says the statement. “The experience of betrayal is great. Crimes of sexual abuse can never be tolerated, most especially among priests.”

During the hearing, both the family of the victim and Praveen’s defense argued that the Catholic church did not properly handle the situation. The victim’s mother released a letter detailing the pain her family was experiencing, and expressing frustration at the church.

“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,” reads the letter. “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 … His superiors and local church leaders have not indicated any will to remove him from the priesthood and have not indicated to us that they will advocate remotely for his removal.”

In response to Praveen’s case, the Rapid City Diocese released a list of 21 priests that have served in the Diocese ministry, and who have had credible allegations of sexual misconduct against them. The church says the list was published in the interest of being accountable and transparent.

This new statement from the Diocese, released late this afternoon, can be read below.

On behalf of the Diocese, I once again offer my apologies to the victim and her family. I am deeply sorry that they had to experience these sinful actions at the hands of a priest.

The pain and suffering of this family have been great. Only those who have been victims of abuse of any kind can understand the trauma. The experience of betrayal is great. Crimes of sexual abuse can never be tolerated, most especially among priests.

The Diocese of Rapid City has cooperated with civil authorities as this case moved through the court system. Now that sentencing has been completed, it is my hope that the healing process for the victim and family can move forward. As the Church, while respecting their privacy, we will continue to offer assistance to the family as they desire it.

We continue to offer our prayers for this victim, her family and for all victims of abuse. We also pray for Father Praveen, that he will seek God’s mercy and forgiveness as he lives out the consequences of his actions. It is my understanding that Father Praveen offered his own words of apology. He will need our continued prayers as well.

The Diocese will remain vigilant and transparent in fulfilling its policies and procedures regarding reported sexual misconduct. We must also never lose sight of those victim-survivors who have suffered because people in positions in power and authority have failed to act as the Gospel demands.

Praveen received 6 years in prison, with the possibility of parole after 3 years.

Categories: Crime, Local News, South Dakota News