Priest Accused of Sexual Abuse Held on $100,000 Cash-only Bond
By Arielle Zionts
Raid City Journal
October 3, 2018
The priest accused of sexually abusing a 13-year-old had his bond set Wednesday at $100,000 cash only at his initial court appearance.
John Praveen, also known as John Praveen Kumar Itukulapat, 38, appeared before Magistrate Judge Scott Bogue from the Pennington County Jail via a video and audio stream.
Bogue said the high bond was set due to the seriousness of the charges and Praveen's flight risk given he has few ties to the community.
Praveen, who most recently worked at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, a church in Rapid City, is charged with two counts of sexual contact with a child under 16. The class 3 felonies, which allegedly occurred on Sept. 3 and 28, carry a punishment of up to 15 years in prison and/or a maximum fine of $30,000, court records say.
Bogue also said he would approve a restraining order for the priest's alleged victim, her sibling and their parents.
He did not set the date for Praveen's preliminary hearing in front of a 7th Circuit Court judge.
A lawyer or legal aide asked Bogue to set a lower bond because Praveen can't afford what was set. He said that Praveen, who is from India, is not a U.S. citizen and is in the country on a work visa.
Bogue told Praveen that means if found guilty, his conviction could possibly result in deportation and not being allowed to return to the country.
Praveen was slow to answer "yes" at the beginning of the appearance when Bogue read him his rights, explained possible punishments and then asked if he understood them. The judge again asked the priest if he understood or if he needed a translator.
Praveen said he mostly understood what the judge was saying but struggled with some legal terms. Bogue again went over the information with Praveen in a more deliberate way.
Brian Christensen, a pastor at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help who attended the initial appearance with another priest, told the Journal that Praveen speaks English but at times has trouble understanding things.
Christensen said he's not sure if Praveen will eventually need a translator, but that it may have been difficult for him to understand legal terms during a quick-paced appearance over video.