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Indian Catholic priest sentenced to six years in prison for child sex abuse in US

Priest Praveen pleaded guilty to one count of having sexual contact with a child under the age of 16

An Indian Roman Catholic priest has been sentenced to six years in prison for sexually abusing a teenage girl in the United States of America.

According to the reports, the Catholic priest is identified as 38-year old John Praveen, who had pleaded guilty in February of sexual contact with a 13-year-old girl in the Rapid City church, South Dakota.

Priest Praveen was handed over the sentence on Friday by Judge Steven Mandel after prosecutors asked for the maximum of one year in prison. However, Judge Mandel said that was the punishment was “not adequate” for Praveen’s crime.

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Judge Mandel also added that if Praveen is granted parole, the parole board could ask Homeland Security to immediately deport him to Hyderabad or have him first serve parole in any State, the report added.

The sentencing came after Praveen pleaded guilty to one count of having sexual contact with a child under the age of 16, a crime that carries a maximum 15-year punishment, the report said.

Priest Praveen had joined the Rapid City Diocese for a 10-year assignment in December 2017. He apologised and told the court he wishes he could take back what he did. The Priest said he knew saying sorry wasn’t enough, and that he wishes he could take back what he did while he promised to never hurt anyone again.

“I send my sincere apologies to the family and the victim about what I have done,” Praveen said through tears in court Friday.

In an emailed statement, Rapid City Bishop Robert Gruss has also apologised to the victim and her family on behalf of the Diocese of Rapid City, calling Praveen’s actions “sinful,” traumatic and a betrayal.

“I am deeply sorry that they had to experience these sinful actions at the hands of a priest,” Gruss said. “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.”

Apart from the global trend, the country has also been rocked by repeated rapes and other abusive incidents at Churches, as recently Franco Mulakkal, a Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Jalandhar, was arrested and released on bail later for allegedly raping a 44-year old nun at a guest house in Kuravilangad in May 2014. Similarly, Father Johnson V Mathew, a priest of Malankara Orthodox church was accused in the rape and sexual abuse of a married woman belonging to the fold was arrested in July 2018.

In February, the Mysuru police had arrested three pastors (religious leaders associated with protestant Churches) for allegedly raping a teenager in Mangaluru. All the three Christian priests have now been charged under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, as per reports.

In another incident, a 60-year-old pastor named Chandra Kumar belonging to a local church in Nagaland was arrested for allegedly raping a 10-year-old girl in Assam’s Karbi Anglong district.

In another incident, a 33-year old Catholic priest, Father Prakash Damor was arrested in Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh for abetting a 17-year-old girl’s suicide.

Recently, a special Mahila Court in Cuddalore had sentenced a church priest to 30 years in prison and nine others to life in prison for their involvement in the horrifying 2014 Tittakudi rape case, which involved two minor girls.

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