Priest in South Dakota charged with child sex abuse

1024px Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help   Rapid City SD The Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Rapid City, S.D., | Diocese of Rapid City via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0).

A priest in Rapid City, South Dakota has been arrested and charged with two counts of sexual contact with a child under 16, according to local police.

Authorities took Father John Praveen, 38, into custody Oct. 2 following a joint investigation conducted by the Rapid City Police Department and the Pennington County Sheriff's Office. The investigation began Sept. 30 after a juvenile victim came forward to authorities, alleging two separate incidents, according to a city statement.

Father Praveen, also known as John Praveen Kumar Itukulapti, was born in India and served with the Sanjeev Sadana Society (Holy Spirit Fathers) in the state of Telangana. According to the Rapid City diocesan newsletter, Father Praveen was approved by his congregation to serve in South Dakota for ten years, beginning November 2017.

The Diocese of Rapid City said Church officials are "fully cooperating with law enforcement in this ongoing investigation...Bishop Robert Gruss has also removed him from all ministry in the Diocese of Rapid City."

After being assigned originally to All Saints Church in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, Father Praveen most recently served as parochial vicar at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Rapid City, according to the diocesan website.

The Rapid City Journal reported that Bishop Gruss said the diocese conducted a background check on Praveen, but did not go into detail about the process.

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